We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The era of Covid-totalitarianism

Michael Rectenwald has written a very interesting essay Living in the Age of Covid: “The Power of the Powerless” that raises many very alarming parallels, musing on the original essay by Václav Havel The Power of the Powerless.

Just as the greengrocer was compelled to display signs of his loyalty under Soviet bloc communism, signs transmitting semantic content to which he was indifferent, so the covid citizen is compelled to display signs of compliance and complicity under the covid regime. The signs have included donning the mask and, increasingly, displaying the vaccine passport—to take part in society. And, as under communism, these displays are compulsory rituals. What function do they serve?

Let us take note: if the covid citizen were compelled to wear a sign that said, “I am afraid, therefore unquestionably obedient,” he would not be nearly as indifferent to its semantics, even though the statement would reflect the truth. The covid citizen would be embarrassed and ashamed to don such an unequivocal statement of his own degradation, and quite naturally so, for he is a human being and thus has a sense of his own dignity. To overcome this complication, his expression of fidelity must take the form of a sign which, at least on its surface, indicates a level of credulousness in the covid regime. It must allow the covid citizen to say, “What’s wrong with the vaccine passport? The experts say that the vaccine is necessary, for my health and that of others.” Thus, the vaccine passport helps the covid citizen to conceal from himself the low foundations of his obedience, while at the same time concealing the low foundations of power. The vaccine passport hides them both behind the façade of something high. And that something is ideology.

The [indented] text above is my revision of a passage from Havel’s essay—with “the covid citizen” and “vaccine passport” of the covid regime replacing the greengrocer and the greengrocer’s sign of the Soviet regime. The point is to show, mutatis mutandis, the substitutability of terms. Although the vaccines have shown some efficacy at mitigating the effects of the virus, they neither protect their recipients from infection and disease nor prevent them from spreading it. And the dangers of the vaccines are not all known, although many short-term side effects, including death, have been documented. The vaccines may also be driving antibody-dependent enhancement, and, with the selective pressure they put on the virus, the production of mutations (variants). The vaccines are, after all, “state of emergency” measures, rushed into use before the necessary scientific testing to gauge their efficacy or ensure their safety could be done. Thus, they are anything but “science”—if by “science” we mean unhampered and open inquiry using the scientific method. The vaccine passport thus serves an ideological function, just like the greengrocer’s sign.

Read the whole thing.

38 comments to The era of Covid-totalitarianism

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Fantastic article from Michael Rectenwald.

    People here know well my long-held opinions on hereditary absolute monarchy and democracy or constitutional republics. I still maintain such views are correct for the entire pre-internet age of humanity.

    But over only the last few months I have seen what is happening across the entire world.

    We are probably entering a new era of humanity. It is a highly nuanced situation with deep complexity and may change human civilization in fundamental ways. The incentives driving how and why information, people, and capital flow throughout the world are changing.

    And I believe that there are a huge number of dynamics at play in this new era of humanity that I do not know that I am not yet aware of. These large number of unknown unknowns are haunting.

    Snorri Godhi quoted Salisbury from memory in a recent thread:
    Every change is for the worse; therefore, we must make sure that there is as little change as possible.

    Being pro-democracy appears to have suddenly become a losing battle and simultaneously (and for similar reasons) has gained enormous merit in my eyes.

    I can see myself becoming ardently, philosophically in favor of democratic government for both moral and practical reasons overnight.

    Not sure if I am there yet, but I’m close.

  • Paul Marks

    At each stage of this thing I have thought “at least they (the international establishment) can not get more despotic” – but they do. I remember watching Melbourne and thinking “well at least they are not doing that in Sydney” – but then they did the same thing in Sydney.

    As for what will happen with the vaccines – I do not know what will happen with them. Perhaps I will die – perhaps I will not die just yet (I do not know).

    Clearly (whether or not Covid 19 was developed and released deliberately) the statism is meant to be permanent. Almost as soon as the Cold War was won (with FOOLS like me thinking liberty would now expand in the West) the international establishment (including President Herbert Walker Bush and Prime Minister John Major) agreed to “legally nonbinding” Agenda 21 (now called Agenda 2030 or “sustainable development” and “stakeholder capitalism”, or just “equity”) – with creeping (gradual) state and corporate control of everything (economic and cultural) – supposedly for the good of the people. With its planning of land use (very Ricardo and James and J.S. Mill) and all.

    This was no really a response to “Global Warming” – as these plans had been in the works long before then, and it is certainly was NOT in response to Covid 19 (how could it be – it was agreed decades before). There is no conspiracy – all this was out in the open.

    The education system teaches that the state (and allied corporations and NGOs) must control everything – for our own good.

    Even as I watched the Berlin Wall fall, our own educated establishment in the West was already planning ever more statism – again no “conspiracy” (their plans have always been out in the open) and, supposedly for our own good.

    Saint-Simon (two centuries ago – before Karl Marx) and his followers thought in terms of Technocracy – socialism, but with no mass killing of Big Business types.

    On the contrary the Big Business types, especially Credit Bubble Bankers (Credit Bubble bankers – NOT money lenders in the old sense of a “Shylock” lending out cash, the Credit Bubble bankers would CREATE money) would RULE the socialist society – and all in the name of SCIENCE.

    The “scientists” would not be interested in science as such – they would be interested in “science” as a form of POWER (as with Sir Francis Bacon “The New Atlantis”) – and they would work with the Big Business types (the Corporations – especially Credit Bubble bankers) in planning the new socialist society.

    It all seemed quite insane – but it is what we are getting. Socialism ruled by Big Business (especially the Credit Bubble people) and in the name of “science”.

    Will it work?

    No – of course it will not work. It will be a incredible (civilisation threatening) disaster – that is already plain.

  • Paul Marks

    Shlomo Maistre – you do not have to give up much of your existing beliefs.

    You can carry on having great doubts about the knowledge and wisdom of the people – it is just a matter of understanding that the establishment elite are even worse.

    I would much rather be governed by ordinary people – than by the sort of people who go to Davos and actually believe in the evil madness that that is taught in such conferences.

    As William F. Buckley put it – I would rather be ruled by 50 names taken (at random) from the telephone directory, than by the academic, political, or corporate elite.

  • If you are interested in prophetic science fiction, read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. I can’t find my copy for quotes, but I’ll try my best, (It was the subject of a recent article in the Grauniad.


    The article is about the virtual world, which doesn’t concern me at the moment. The part of interest here is that the State has not exactly withered away, but it certainly has wilted. Most people are citizens of multinational corporations. As one review says:

    Not all of the events of Snow Crash take place in the Metaverse; Stephenson’s real world is, arguably, far more interesting. Nearly everything is privatized, from neighborhoods to roads to law enforcement; private corporations (including the Mafia) operate “Franchise-Organized Quasi-National Entities” that own properties across the country and include citizenship and privileged access. Hiro, for example, is a citizen of “Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong” (which is not affiliated with the city), and he flees to one of its properties midway through the book:


    Today, everybody is interested in the Metaverse, while it seems the corporate nateions are happening more quietly.

  • Stonyground

    When the mask mandates were dropped I became a bit of an obsessive people watcher every time I went to the shops, trying each time to estimate the proportion of masked and unmasked folk. It would appear to be about 50/50 generally, sometimes higher sometimes lower. Over the last few days I have seen people obsessively sanitising their trolley. It definitely appears that there are a lot of people who think that all these pointless rituals are totally necessary to avoid dying. These people are actually in favour of government oppression and would prefer that the rest of us were forced to wear masks and to sanitise our trolleys too. These people are unlikely to vote in defence of liberty.

    One more observation. The only people that I know personally who have contracted this disease have been in their twenties. Is it possible that being exposed to multiple variations of cold and flu viruses for five or six decades gives you an effective immunity even to new variants?

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Paul Marks,

    The reasons I changed about ten years ago from being a libertarian to a monarchist did not include any changes in any of my beliefs.

    The reasons I changed about ten years ago from being a libertarian to a monarchist were because of new understandings – new understandings about psychology, sociology, history, and religion.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Paul Marks,

    You can carry on having great doubts about the knowledge and wisdom of the people

    I have always had great doubts about the knowledge and wisdom of the people – both before and after I became a monarchist. If humans were vastly more knowledgeable and wise than they are in reality my positions on democracy and monarchy would remain completely unchanged. My opinions about democracy and monarchy come from many things:
    1. the incentives for governance in both systems, which are not impacted by people’s wisdom or knowledge
    2. the composition of power in both systems, which are not impacted by people’s wisdom or knowledge
    3. the nature of authority in both systems, which are not impacted by people’s wisdom or knowledge
    4. the extent of how secure government is in both systems, which are not impacted by people’s wisdom or knowledge
    5. the nature of psychology of humans, which cries out for strong leadership and sacred cows that imbue society with certain assumed orthodoxies

    it is just a matter of understanding that the establishment elite are even worse

    I do not understand what you mean by “worse” in this context.

    But by most ways of defining “worse” specifically as it relates to this context, then I can say that I have thought for all of the past ten years that the establishment elite of the western world are and have been much worse than the people ever since AT LEAST the Enlightenment of the 1600s – and arguably since forever, depending on the definition of “worse”. Still I am a monarchist and I have been a monarchist for the past 10 years, without any regret at all.

    I would much rather be governed by ordinary people

    For me it’s not about who is running things. That’s pretty much irrelevant. It’s about incentives. It’s about incentives.

    As William F. Buckley put it – I would rather be ruled by 50 names taken (at random) from the telephone directory, than by the academic, political, or corporate elite.

    I agree with the spirit of the comment, and this comment strikes a tone that I make common cause with (and always have). However, it just does not capture the crux of my political philosophy – or at least in the pre-networked, pre-internet era of humanity

  • Shlomo Maistre

    We are seeing something quite extraordinary happening in the world right now.

    Many factors are causing what we are seeing.

    One of those factors may be a tectonic shift in the relationship between political leadership and labor.

    If this is actually true, then to say that this is worrisome is a preposterous understatement of epic proportions.

    The incentives of political leadership with respect to what shapes the life experiences of ordinary humans may have been either fundamentally altered or even inverted as a result of certain extraordinary technological innovations.

    An inversion of incentive for political leadership with respect to labor, particularly, would imply that greater human liberty (for the first time in human history) is no longer a consequence of the extent to which political authority is absolute, centralized, and/or secure.

  • Jame Hargrave


    These morons drive me to an all but uncontainable rage – I suspected that one dim specimen, in effect barring entry to a supermarket half a dozen, was about to sanitise her reproductive organs so assiduous was she with the shopping trolley – probably repeating the process on exiting too. Cultists exhibiting low intelligence despite, one fears, having more supposed intelligence. I suspect that they could easily be persuaded that the pox was caught from a lavatory seat, etc., etc.

    The only problem I have had throughout has been picking up obsessively ‘sanitised’ shopping trolleys and baskets and coming out with an itching rash…

  • Phil B

    Many short-term side effects, including death, have been documented.

    Correct me if I’m wrong on this one or have misunderstood but I think that death is a fairly long term effect of the “vaccine”.

  • Paul Marks

    Shlomo Maistre – you rarely define what you mean by a monarchist.

    For example, what do people do if the King is an imbecile – such as Henry VI of England. He was not fit for “absolute” power (no one is) – but he was also not fit for any say in government at all.

    Also what do people do if the King is a tyrant? There must be a way of peacefully removing the head of government.

    The difficulty with modern “democracy” is that the head of government is NOT the head of government – the rise of the Civil Service and independent agencies, has led to the elected people having less and less real control over the government. In short the problem is not democracy – but the fact that democracy has been undermined.

    As Douglas Carswell is fond of pointing in the British case – essentially NONE of the expansions of the state were in response to demands from the people. Nor were they really efforts to “buy votes” – in almost every case a small “educated” elite pushed statist schemes, because they (the small “educated” elite) believed in this statism.

    They were not reacting to demands from the people, and they were NOT trying to buy votes. The “educated” elite were pushing statism because they believe in statism.

    There is no point in having elections IF the elections make no real difference. In some (some) American States elections still make a difference – with elected State Governors able to make a stand AGAINST “lockdowns” and-so-on.

    In the United Kingdom politics is not like that – here all the parties follow official advice, and not just Covid 19 (on just about everything).

    This may well be the lack of an “monarchical” element in the British and other parliamentary nations.

    The monarch no longer has any power (unlike little places such as Liechtenstein) – and elected INDIVIDUAL has any power from their election from the people.

    A Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, or a Premier of a Canadian Province (or some other such place) is NOT directly elected by the people – they have to constantly look over their shoulder against the threat of being removed if they step too far out of line.

    Margaret Thatcher had won three General Elections – but had no power as an INDIVIDUAL, Mrs Thatcher was just M.P. for Finchley. And so could be removed as Prime Minister in 1990.

    An American Governor (or, at least in theory, the American President) can say “I was elected to this office by the people – you have no right to remove me”.

    Although, certainly at the Federal level, the “I do not work for you” position of the government officials is very strong. How dare President Trump try to interfere in policy! How dare Prime Minister Johnson even express doubts about policy!

    Legally they are correct – officials in the United Kingdom and the United States (and so on) do NOT work for the elected politicians (although Mr Cummings DID work for Prime Minister Johnson – he just acted as if he did NOT, and he now admits that he was actively trying to undermine his employer even BEFORE Covid 19). But this is not democracy – this is the negation of democracy.

  • Paul Marks

    Stupid me – I clicked before checking what address the thing was set to. So S.M. will have to wait for his reply.

    Ellen – the state has not wilted. It has never been bigger – and not just in spending, regulations over the last year have been worse than during World War II. I remember the owner of the Blackpool rides saying “but they did not even close us during World War II” – but they were closed this time (with “Ccvid” being used as the excuse).

    Whether it is “Covid” or “Global Warming” – the “reason” is never the reason. The reason is state power – from the cradle to the grave (so no wilting – quite the opposite).

    As for the vast corporations – they tend to be controlled by people who are essentially socialists (although they do not use the word). For example William “Bill” Gates (about whom Mr Dominic Cummings speaks with such religious awe) believes the state should control people from the cradle to the grave – for our own good. He is not unusual – he is the norm. Mr Gates was not convinced of all this by “Global Warming” or “Covid 19” – he has always been a collectivist, his parents taught him to be so.

    “But he has got vast amounts of money” – so what? Being a “capitalist” does not make someone a supporter of “capitalism” – beliefs are NOT determined by economic class factors.

    Higher taxes, more government spending, collectivist control of land use (very Agenda 21) – they believe in it all, because they are educated to believe in it all.

    When they jet off to Davos (and so on) and praise Agenda 21 (and all the rest of it) they are sincere. Some of them may NOT be (for example Jeff Bezos of Amazon knows it is all bovine excrement – but his corporation pushes Collectivism anyway), but most of them are sincere.

    The Corporations (led by the Credit Bubble banks – who are NOT traditional money lenders) are committed to world Collectivism – they are signed up for it.

    But the ideas of Saint-Simon are still socialism – just socialism delivered by Big Business.

    And NO it is not “just economic” – the various “Agendas” include a cultural side.

    For example, all those conservatives cheering that the banks and clearing services are demanding that “Only Fans” bans porn – they do not, yet, understand that the same “Agenda” includes banning all conservative content (the banks and financial clearing services will get round to that in due course).

    “They can not touch me – I have got my own website”.

    So you do not need banking or any other financial services then?

    A “Shylock” is not interested in “controlling the culture” – he just he wants his money. And a “Shylock” can not create boom-busts because he is lending out cash money (he is not CREATING money).

    Banking (as it is now practiced) is nothing to do with traditional money lending – I think the French socialist Saint-Simon was the first thinker to notice that modern banking (creating money from nothing – and backed by THE STATE) could be used to totally control society.

    Of course, this depends on the THE STATE – as, otherwise, the Credit Bubble banks (and the “Woke” Corporations that depend upon them) would go “bankrupt”.

    The big banks (and the Woke corporations) are not allowed to go bankrupt anymore – we do NOT live in a capitalist society.

  • Paul Marks

    I am not saying that Covid 19 is not relevant – it may not have created any of the Collectivist plans (which date back many decades) – but it has certainly speeded things up. Given the international establishment (government and corporate – but they are joined together anyway) a justification to do things much faster than they otherwise could have done.

    That does NOT mean they deliberately released Covid 19 (I suspect that Tony Fauci and Peter Daszak bleeped up, and so did the Chinese, and then they all just went into a lie-fest to cover their own backsides) – but they certainly took advantage of it. Such things as smearing Early Treatment are unforgiveable.

    That (the smearing of Early Treatment) cost vast numbers of human lives – and all so they could push their demented ideas of planning society from the cradle to the grave. Ideas that will fail anyway – their precious “new society” is going to collapse.

    I am not saying that I will outlive it – but there are plenty of people around now who will out live this mess, will still be alive long after it just a horrible memory.

    So it is all POINTLESS.

    “Davos”, “Agenda 21”, “Stakeholder Capitalism”, “Sustainable Development”, the Corporate State – it is all POINTLESS.

    None of it is going to last.

    It violates basic economic law – and it is going to collapse.

    But they never learn – from Plato onwards the “intellectuals” keep coming back with their demented Collectivism.

  • Rudolph Hucker

    None of it is going to last. It violates basic economic law – and it is going to collapse.

    Well, I might not disagree with that, and the idea of “them” getting their kharma certainly has some appeal. But what of the effects of the collapse? For most of us, I suspect, one of the first effects would be our pension funds had magically disappeared. Poof! Just like that! (Insert manic Tommy Cooper laugh here)

    Does anyone have a “Plan B” in case that happens? Preferably with a skills-set that transcends normal retirement ages and earns more than a minimum wage.

    Or maybe we’ll all be poor but happy?

  • Erik

    Paul Marks,

    Also what do people do if the King is a tyrant? There must be a way of peacefully removing the head of government.

    Who might be doing this passive-voice removing? What you say here implies there must be “someone” who has the power to remove the head of government – but then the headship of government is more correctly assigned to this “someone”, not to the removable person.
    If it’s a single “someone”, you’ve got monarchy with an extra step; if it’s the people, then your response is isomorphic to saying “There must be democracy” which is precisely what the monarchist is disputing.

    Democratic power is deeply unstable and insecure, and constantly seeks to escape (or if I should anthropomorphise less, flows like water downhill) away from voter control, settling into unelected offices, national emergencies, medical excuses, expert recommendations, oversight committees, et cetera.

    The difficulty with modern “democracy” is that the head of government is NOT the head of government – the rise of the Civil Service and independent agencies, has led to the elected people having less and less real control over the government. In short the problem is not democracy – but the fact that democracy has been undermined.

    Democracy has not “been undermined” as though by an external actor, it is self-undermining. The most “real control” over the government that the people could have would be either a real-time mobocracy, or to elect a dictator with absolute power. Anything short of a dictator with absolute power leads right back to the rise of Civil Service power, but having a dictator isn’t very democratic either, even if he’s elected.

  • Stonyground

    All this would seem to be making the case for small government. Democracy and other forms of selecting government are very far from perfect. Therefore if the government is involved in less it will be likely to do less damage when it gets things wrong. How you achieve small government when the people pulling the strings want it bigger is another question.

  • Paul Marks

    Erik – you have not explained what to do if the King is imbecile, such as Henry VI, or a tyrant (of whom there have been many in English history – and the history of other nations).

    Double talk is not an answer to my questions. I am going to be so bold as to suggest that you have no answers.

    “Democracy is self undermining” – no system if perfect, but if the people can not remove rulers peacefully you are (de facto) telling them to use VIOLENCE. As for bad policies – there is nothing to suggest that they have recently come from the people, on the contrary (at least in the modern West) they have come from the educated elite – NOT to “win votes”, but because the educated elite sincerely believe in these terrible policies. These are the sort of people who would advice a monarch.

    For example, Henry IV of France was told (by an adviser) to have compulsory guilds for every trade in France – no one was in a position to stop this mad folly. And it undermined French economic development for centuries. Louis XIV took the advice of the expert Colbert – creating an utterly insane system of regulation that covered everything – every trade and manufacture. Even the highest nobles of the land were reduced to painted clowns – forced to live (for much of the year) in a vast palace, that neglected toilets.

    No one is suggesting “the divine right of the 51%” – I am as committed to the Bill of Rights (limited government) as you are Sir (I suspect rather more committed than you are Sir). But the people must have the ability to peacefully remove a government.

    As for your idea elected control over the government machine is a “dictator”, you are mistaken Erik.

    There may not have been universal suffrage at the time of, say, Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel – but the elected government had control over its own staff.

    There was no Civil Service in the United States till the 1880s – and no unionisation of the Federal Government till the 1960s.

    Are you suggesting that every American President before the 1960s was a “dictator” Sir.

    Was, say, President Buchanan a “dictator”? How about President John Quincey Adams?

    Copying China (the examinations, the Mandarin class) was a MISTAKE – and it was nothing to do with “democracy being self undermining” – the public were not out in the streets chanting “we want a Civil Service – and we want it now”.

    People such as Charles Trevelyan were not democrats. But nor were they great friends of property His answer to every problem was HIGHER taxes on property – and when that made things worse, he pushed even higher taxes, and when that made things worse….. (vicious circle – Ireland in the late 1840s).

    As for monarchs.

    Are you suggesting that the Great Charter of 1215 was a mistake – or its operation should have optional for future monarchs, so they could ignore it (and other fundamental principles) if they felt like it?

    In short, please spare us all the doctrines of Thomas Hobbes – and Carl Schmitt.

    Oh yes – I know where you are coming from Sir.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course there are burdens with putting elected people in charge of appointments (hiring and firing) – some American Presidents (back in the days when America was real Constitutional Republic) died under the pressure of work – that is sad, but they were not conscripts. They wanted the role – even if it meant their deaths from overwork.

    Also if the elected are in charge of the government machine, the government machine can not be very big – the Progressive reformers were united in their belief that a Mandarin Class was necessary if government was to control society. But I do NOT want government to control society. So I do not want their endless officials and agencies. Stonyground has covered this point.

  • Paul Marks

    Rudolf Hucker – the international economy is going to collapse.

    That is not my doing – I have no power. The people to blame are those who have pushed this wild government spending (financed by money created from NOTHING) and these endless regulations. My only satisfaction is that the collapse (terrible though it will be) will destroy their precious dream of a perfect Collectivist Totalitarian society – till the next time, for the war is eternal.

    “poor but happy” – when have I ever said that?

    I will not survive what is coming – I know that. But you might survive.

    I wish you the best of luck Sir. May you live to see a prosperous and free world.

    As for where to go.

    If you are an American – South Dakota might be a good place to go. They know that socialism does not work – they can observe Pine Ridge and the other Collectivist hellholes.

    Tony Heller prefers Wyoming – partly because he loves hydrocarbon production.

    But you are correct – make sure you have practical skills (where ever you go).

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I don’t quite agree with Shlomo, though I see where he is coming from – it’s not just about incentives. It’s about accountability.

    Policies and politicians need to be accountable for results. If every piece of legislation has to have clear targets listed and a date to accomplish those aims for review before its continued, the legislation for every democracy will be a lot better. E.g. oh, you want to start taxes on cigarettes? What’s the objective? Oh, raise XX dollars and reduce YY lung cancer related deaths by year ZZZZ, to be reviewed the next year in AAAA? Great, let’s put it to a vote.

    Hmmm… I find it strange that this is just not done, when it’s common sense, isn’t it?

  • Paul – I certainly wouldn’t say the State has wilted today. That was in the world of Snow Crash. But an increasing number of multi-national corporations are growing to the point that the State must take their interests seriously, just as they must take the State’s interests seriously.

    These days, NASA and SpaceX must pay attention to one another. Cars are made by multinationals using parts from across the globe. The Internet goes everywhere. Half the things I buy come from other nations.

    We are beginning to approach Kipling’s “Peace of Dives”. Though it doesn’t work as well as Kipling thought it would, perhaps it will in time.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Paul Marks,

    Shlomo Maistre – you rarely define what you mean by a monarchist.

    I have defined it many times. I am in favor of a hereditary divine-right monarchy where the King possesses the perceived, alleged absolute authority. This is called centralized, sovereignty. It leads to a stable, secure system of governance that leads to more efficient bureaucracy, laws, and regulations.

    So, for example, we need our political leader who actually has the authority to terminate the employment of all federal bureaucrats at any time and for any reason. See here for an example discussion of this.

    An absolute monarch would have the authority to do this and, since his bank account is his country’s treasury, he has the incentive for government to be small, efficient, and profitable. He wants profit. This is good. More liberty, all else equal, generally leads to more innovation, more work, more wealth, and more prosperity. Now, is this a perfect system that never causes problems? Of course not. It’s just a far superior system than democracy for human liberty, peace, and prosperity – at least in the pre-internet, pre-networked age.

    Everyone is selfish.


    A King, a President, a Prime Minister, a dictator – they are all at the end of the day going to act in their own self interest.

    They want power, money, wealth, and influence in the world. In democracy the way to get that is simple: ever-greater government spending, ever more oppressive, complex, and numerous government regulation, ever-rising taxation, and ever-greater public debts. Why? To reward special interests, lobbyists, and corporations.

    In a hereditary absolute monarchy the way to increase power, money, wealth, and influence is by administering an efficient bureaucracy, taxation to the extent that it helps the treasury of the government (which is the monarch’s bank account) in the long run, and low debt. The more prosperous, the more safe, the more free, and the more wealthy a country is the more powerful, the more wealthy, the more secure, and the more influential the monarch is, all else equal. Now, things are never equal so you can name any numbers of examples “proving me wrong” from history. But reality, the overwhelming evidence of history, and the laws of human action prove me correct: incentives drive action and good LONG TERM decisions stem from a properly incentivized, and properly motivated leader.

    Democracies always fail in the long run – usually because they run up huge debts and deficits and tax their wealth-generating population out of existence. It is true that monarchies fail too. Nothing lasts forever. But a cursory glance at history will demonstrate to any open-minded person that monarchies are far more stable and long-lasting than democracies, and in the long run monarchies* tend to lead to far more peace, tranquility, stability, wealth, and human freedom.

    *absolute, hereditary divine right monarchies not the fake, artificial, weak, and/or “constitutional” monarchies of most of the current world like in the UK

    For example, what do people do if the King is an imbecile

    I never alleged that it’s fool proof. It’s about incentives. Incentives drive action.

    Also what do people do if the King is a tyrant?

    Why would the answer be any different from: what do people do if the President or Prime Minister is a tyrant?

  • Shlomo Maistre

    The Wobbly Guy,

    I don’t quite agree with Shlomo, though I see where he is coming from – it’s not just about incentives. It’s about accountability.

    The problem you have is that both of the following statements are true:
    1. sovereignty is by definition unaccountable
    2. there must be at least one sovereign – in any organization, there is one or several people who RULE, MAKE DECISIONS, AND HAVE AUTHORITY over all others and in nations that person or group of people also MUST BY DEFINITION have a monopoly on the lawful use of force

    So there will be unaccountable government (this is what used to be understood as sovereignty). The only question is who is/are going to be unaccountable.

    In other words, sovereignty cannot be escaped. There will be sovereignty. The only question is who will be sovereign.

    Some options:
    1. King who gains power by birth right
    2. Dictator who gains power by coup
    3. President or Prime Minister
    4. Congress/Parliament
    5. SCOTUS
    6. Media
    7. Bureaucracy
    8. International NGOs
    9. States/provinces
    10. Patriarchs/Heads of family
    11. CEOs of multinational corporations
    12. Military generals
    13. Special Interests
    14. Big Tech
    15. Counties
    16. Federal Reserve
    17. Lobbyists
    18. Dukes
    19. Governors of states
    20. Princes
    21. King’s court
    22. Mistresses
    23. Advisors of the leader(s)
    etc etc etc

    Now, the answer can be any one of these options. Or it can be a combination of these options. Or, perhaps, it can even be one or more options not listed.

    But the answer cannot, Wobbly Guy, be no option at all.

    There must be unaccountable government in the long run because sovereignty is a Law of the Universe.

    We are likely entering an era now, however, in which resistance to this law of the universe may in fact be an imperative for any liberty-loving person. Something I am terribly sad to see with my own eyes.

    In the past this law meant that greater liberty was a consequence of the extent to which political authority was centralized, absolute, secure, and stable. This has been the case throughout all of human history. Now, however, it is not clear that this is still the case, due to how the relationship between political authority and labor has probably changed due to technology. And, if the incentive has inverted, then the opposite may actually be true. For the first time in human history.

  • There must be unaccountable government in the long run because sovereignty is a Law of the Universe.

    That’s quite a leap 😋

    I would say unaccountable government eventually ends up on its knees outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall or the Place de la Concorde… that is more likely to be a Law of the Universe.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    I would say unaccountable government eventually ends up on its knees outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall or the Place de la Concorde… that is more likely to be a Law of the Universe.

    Well, yes. Nothing lasts forever. So both are laws of the universe.

    Sovereignty. It must exist and it does exist.

  • anonymous lurker

    NRX theory:

    “the absolute king has the incentive for government to be small, efficient, and profitable”

    Actually existing monarchy:

    “During this prosperous time, the Spanish Crown declared itself bankrupt nine times: 1557, 1575, 1596, 1607, 1627, 1647, 1652, 1662, and 1666.”


    “By 1787 there were massive budget deficits – expenses = 600 million livres, revenue = 475 million livres”



  • Sovereignty. It must exist and it does exist.

    T-Rex existed. Now it doesn’t.

    This side of fusion, nations exist. Hard to see much reason for them on the other side.


    Thread winner 😉

  • Snorri Godhi


    I have defined [what I mean by monarchist] many times. I am in favor of a hereditary divine-right monarchy where the King possesses the perceived, alleged absolute authority. This is called centralized, sovereignty.

    And yet you have also said that absolute monarchy is not absolute. Even in the above, you seem to qualify absolute power as “perceived, alleged”.

    Nor have you ever explained why heathens such as myself should acknowledge the divine right of a monarch.

    It leads to a stable, secure system of governance that leads to more efficient bureaucracy, laws, and regulations.

    You wrote that you have not changed “beliefs”, but now have ‘new undestandings’ (additional beliefs?) of history etc.
    But the above suggests that you know almost nothing about the history of monarchies.

  • Snorri Godhi

    This thread is shifting off-topic.
    Apologies about that, but i think that the debate remains highly interesting.

    Paul Marks has correctly insisted, time and again, that there is no such thing as democracy today, that we live in administrative states. (Although, outside of North America, at least we count every legitimate vote, and no fraudulent vote.)
    I am halfway through a related essay, claiming that it is exactly the extension of suffrage that led to the administrative state.

    It is worth remembering, however, that the earliest states with a system of public administration were monarchies: Egypt, China, Persia under the Sassanians, and France beginning with, i believe, Philippe Auguste.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    In dozens and dozens of Samizdata threads over the years I have attempted to elucidate my views cogently and logically. I’m not going to keep beating a dead horse – not in this thread, anyway.

    What Perry brings up in his OP is important. The COVID totalitarianism is real and terrifying.

    We are living through something that is definitely orders of magnitude more consequential than 9/11 ever was and I do believe probably much more consequential than WWII, WWI, or even the French Revolution.

    This may be a brand new era for all of humanity.

    Peter/r/breggin Whitney/webb Nicholas/wade


  • Paul Marks

    Ellen – no governments do not have to care about the fate of big corporations.

    The big corporations THINK that governments must respect them – but governments can simply choose not to.

    The corporations love the People’s Republic of China – that is the sort of regime they want in the West. And they are fools to want this – ask Jack Ma.

    “But you PROMISED – there would be regulations to crush competition and lots Social Justice policies, but we would NOT be nationalised”.

    We changed are minds – by the way we have decided not just to take your business, but also to vivisect you and your family for your organs – we call it “sovereignty”.

  • Paul Marks

    Shlomo Maistre.

    “Absolute” monarchy is an utterly absurd form of government – it is also totally against the Western tradition.

    Aristotle defines the difference between monarchy and tyranny as being the role of law – under a lawful monarchy the King obeys the law (the King is under the law), under a tyranny the will of ruler is the law – which can chance at any time (on the whim of the ruler).

    What you call “sovereignty” essentially is the totalitarianism you claim to oppose – for you give the people no way of peacefully removing the ruler, and you place NO LIMIT AT ALL on the powers of the ruler.

    That is Thomas Hobbes (and his master Sir Francis Bacon) – that is tyranny, unlimited state power, totalitarianism.

    You are saying that Western tradition of limited government (the rule of law – not of men) is not real – that everyone from Aristotle to Tolkien (yes the Lord of the Rings is about the CONFLICT between monarchy, rule UNDER the law, and tyranny) might as well have not written anything at all.

    You are saying that all the great documents of the Western Tradition (the declaration of 877, the Great Charter of 1215, the Bill of Rights, all of them) are WORTHLESS – you prefer tyranny, unlimited state power.

    That is your ABSOLUTE monarchy (which is against the Western tradition – it is Oriental Despotism). And it makes no difference at all if it one tyrant or a group of tyrants.

    The doctrines of Thomas Hobbes are false – all of them. He takes words such as “law” and “justice” and redefines them as the whims of the ruler or rulers.

    The definitions that Thomas Hobbes gives (including his definition of what a human is – his denial of personhood) is false.

    Shlomo Maistre – you claim to oppose totalitarianism, but then you propose the same thing under a different name.

    Whether the tyrant wears a Crown or not is not relevant. Nor did it matter if the tyrant claims to believe in some religion. Nor does it matter of the tyrant is one person – at a group.

    It is clear that Thomas Hobbes himself understand this – that he is really advocating tyranny under the false name of “sovereignty”, and wishing for a tyrant (be that one man or a group) and pretending this is a Western King – when it is really an Despot no better than the Emperors of the late Roman Empire, whose whims were the “law”.

  • Paul Marks

    Under the doctrines of Thomas Hobbes, and his master Sir Francis Bacon, there is absolutely no basis what-so-ever to oppose “Covid totalitarianism”.

    Indeed Covid is not necessary – the “King” (in reality a despot – an “Absolute Monarchy” not a monarch under the law) could just say “I am closing down all business enterprises” – but why? “Because I feel like it – and my whims are the law”.

    That is what no peaceful means to remove a ruler (or rulers) and no limit on the POWER of the ruler (or rulers) actually means.

    And putting a crown on the head of the tyrant (or tyrants) and having the tyrant (or tyrants) chant some prayers – makes no difference whatever. Not unless the crown comes with an oath limiting the power of the monarch (an oath that can be enforced AGAINST the ruler if need be), or the religion contains law that the ruler (or rulers) can NOT change and must obey.

    If Hobbes is followed – then there is no point in having the monarch swear the oath at their coronation (as the words of the oath have no meaning – they do not limit the power of the ruler or rulers), and there is no point in any religious ritual (as religion is NOT held to limit the power of the ruler or rulers).

    For a follower of Thomas Hobbes to claim to be against totalitarianism is false. It is bad faith Sir.

  • Paul Marks

    Does anyone seriously think that the “Davos” crowd would be against Thomas Hobbes and his master Sir Francis “New Atlantis” Bacon?

    On the contrary, the Davos crowd (the Covid totalitarians and the “Climate” totalitarians – and whatever other justification they can think up) love all this. After all they would get what they want, totalitarianism, without even needing a justification of Covid, or Climate, or anything else. “I felt like it – and my whims are the law” would be enough.

    You can not get to the political philosophy of the Bill of Rights from the philosophy of Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume (who denied even human personhood – the “I”), Jeremy Bentham – and the rest of them.

    These men can only lead to tyranny – they support no law and legal rights AGAINST the ruler or rulers. No limitation on the power of the ruler or rulers – nothing that can be enforced against the ruler or rulers.

    They lead to Carl Schmitt.

    F.A. Hayek was baffled that Carl Schmitt came to the conclusions that he did – but Carl Schmitt was simply being logical. But he was logically reasoning from FALSE premises.

    Such as the false premise of unlimited state power (tyranny) that Thomas Hobbes falsely called “sovereignty”.

  • Paul Marks

    As was once wildly known (to the Classical thinkers thousands of years ago – right up the Constitutional Club network that used to exist in the United Kingdom, and such things as the Ulster Covenant of 1912) – a would-be tyranny first seeks to disarm the people (hence Operation Chokepoint – and the rest of the gradual agenda in the United States).

    At first the regime says “of course we accept that our power is limited – and you have rights against us” – but when the people are disarmed (“this is not political – we are concerned about violent crime, think of the CHILDREN”), then the official line starts to change.

  • anonymous lurker

    Perry de Havilland (London) August 22, 2021 at 9:44 pm
    Thread winner

    yea, best answer to NRX theory talking points is history

    when neoreactionary theory guy says “monarchy would never do X” answer with numerous historical examples where absolute divine monarchs did X in abundance

  • yea, best answer to NRX theory talking points is history