September 19, 2022

The Weakness of Tyranny And The Mystery of The Monarchy

An excerpt from, "The Weakness of Tyranny" By George Weigel, First Things, December 28, 2011:

With the benefit of 30 years of hindsight, it now seems clear that the imposition of martial law in Poland in December 1981 was not an act of strength but one of weakness, by a regime so incapable of commanding the allegiance of those in whose name it claimed to rule that it could only compel obedience by violence. It took some time for this to become clear in Poland, a country frequently burdened by crushed hopes; John Paul’s second pastoral pilgrimage to his homeland, in June 1983, did a lot to raise the spirits of his countrymen”who rallied their energies such that, by 1987, the Pope could spend his third pilgrimage home laying the cultural and moral foundations for a post-communist Poland, which was born two years later in the Revolution of 1989.

Two days after the imposition of the “state of war,” President Ronald Reagan hosted a lunch at the White House for the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli. As I report in The End and the Beginning , it was Cardinal Casaroli who, over the course of a 90-minute discussion, took the Realpolitik view: however unfortunate martial law might be, there were likely reasons of state that compelled General Wojciech Jaruzelski, concerned about a possible Soviet invasion to crush Solidarity beneath Red Army tank treads, to behave as he did. And it was Ronald Reagan who, speaking in the tones of John Paul II, was the voice of moral outrage over this latest usurpation of Polish liberties. As the historical record now makes clear, John Paul and Reagan had it right, and the veteran Vatican diplomat had it wrong: there was no invasion threat in December 1981 (although there had been one in December 1980); the Jaruzelski regime was a hollow, if brutal, shell; the power of moral conviction, aroused, could be an effective antidote to communist tyranny, forging hitherto unimagined and effective tools of resistance; there was nothing permanent about the post-Yalta division of Europe.

The lessons, 30 years later? Solidarity’s triumph ought not be universalized as a one-size-fits-all model for coping with tyrants. Still, John Paul II’s instinct for reading history through cultural lenses has much to commend it. Politics and economics are important. What drives history over the long haul, however, is culture: what men and women cherish, honor, and worship; what men and women are willing to stake their lives, and their children’s lives, on.

An excerpt from, "The Mystery of The Monarchy" By Beverley Baxter, Maclean's, April 1, 1952:

The truth is that no real substitute has been found for monarchy, just as in human nature there is no real substitute for character. Therefore when a king brings character to his task the institution of monarchy itself is strengthened.

Another thing that monarchy supplies is the instantaneous successorship. “The King is dead, long live the Queen!” That was the decree which needed no act of parliament. At one moment Princess Elizabeth was a young wife and mother enjoying the first hours of her tour, and in another moment she was Queen of the British peoples. There were no intrigues, no machinations, no manoeuvring for position. From early childhood Elizabeth had been trained for the heavy lonely task of monarchy. As a human being she has her mother and grandmother, her husband and children— but as a queen she becomes the mother of her people.

Compare the passing of George VI with the sudden death of say Franco, or Stalin, or any president of a republic.

In the case of the United States the vice-president automatically becomes president when death intervenes, but ' it is a weakening of authority and a period of political upheaval. In other countries it may mean rebellions and civil war.