We don't have to live like this

"Fuck you, and fuck your blender."

People often ask me why I’m a monarchist. “Why are you a monarchist, Curtis?” Dog: I’m a monarchist because we don’t have to live like this.

How could we live otherwise? We could live with a government which was competent. No one today—certainly not me—can even imagine how different a life that would be.

Spiritual capacity

There are actually two state capacities we can expect from a regime. One: we could have a regime which was physically competent—one that solved the physical problems of government—winning wars, beating pandemics, fighting crime, creating work, etc.

That would be nice. China has that. While the Chinese regime is physically competent, though, it cannot be described as spiritually competent. It still must rule its population by a mystical doctrine of lies. At least this doctrine is mild and mildly enforced, though that’s easy for someone who’s never even installed the Xi Jinping Thought app to say. (Caveat: this refers to only to the Han—by whom you may not want to be conquered.)

Spiritual state capacity is Solzhenitsyn’s “living in truth.” While it is normal and proper for regimes to endorse, and even defend with the secular arm, unprovable statements about the supernatural world, or sometimes even false or misleading statements about the past, a regime crosses the Mendoza line when it forces or pressures its subjects to believe anything about the real, present world that just isn’t so.

We might also say that spiritual competence is Col. Jessup’s “handling the truth.” A regime that can’t handle the truth truly “has the wolf by the ears.” Can we imagine it surviving its own indisputable revelation, in some Khrushchev secret speech, that some essential principle of its constitution is a flagrant misrepresentation of reality?

Revealing a past sin is one thing. Revealing a present weakness is another. You’re a regime, not a taco stand! You can’t show weakness!

The people will break into your offices, and haul you out by the ears—nobody wants to be hauled out by the ears—so you’ll surrender first. If you can find anyone to surrender to. So—on second thought—better to just keep lying. Something might turn up.

China proves that a nation can be physically but not spiritually competent. It is hard to think of, or even imagine, one which is spiritually healthy, but physically incompetent. How would a spiritually competent nation tolerate that state? Why would it tolerate it?

Therefore we can forget all about the path to physical capacity, and focus only on the path to spiritual capacity. If there are any paths to the former that do not run through the latter, they have only a marginal, desperate and temporary feel.

The price of spiritual error

Dissidents are those who consider the regime spiritually incompetent. The regime, by definition, defines itself as spiritually healthy.

One way to recenter the present moment from the dissident perspective is to redefine the military struggle of the 20th century, which we were brought up to think of as the conflict between our free, spiritually healthy democratic society and their spiritually diseased, Orwellian mind-control regimes (differing, between libs and cons, only in the extent to which we equate Hitler and Stalin)—as a conflict among three regimes, or rather traditions of revolutionary government, or even archetypes of political religion. Each of which is very different from the other two—but none of which is healthy or ever was.

It is impossible to deny that all three archetypes of 20th-century governance—fascism, liberalism and communism—are revolutionary in their origin and purpose. (Not to dig too deep into Nazi trivia, but the Horst-Wessel-Lied thunders against “Reaction and the Red Front.”)

Therefore the most important question of the 21st century is whether the revolution of the last three centuries was, or was not, a mistake for the human race. If we decide that it was, we must correct that mistake. Unless you want to keep living like this?

We must not double down on revolution, as we are doing now; we must not correct the error by our actions alone, continuing to pay it lip service as China does Mao; we must instead find every thought that this error has touched, and re-think it. Any discipline or profession tainted by revolutionary logic must be reinvented, from first principles, in a post-revolutionary way.

As Maistre put it: the counterrevolution is not revolution in the opposite direction. (This is the essential error of fascism.) It is the opposite of revolution.

Most people have no idea what this would even mean. This ignorance is the bulwark of the psychological security of the regime. Psychological security under a shitty regime always revolves around inculcating the idea that there is no alternative to the regime, or that any alternative would be even worse. This is the most important of all the lies.

What do you think the opposite of revolution means today? Most people come up with something like: fascism; or turning the world into a theme park of 1771, with wigs; or giving up penicillin, because it was invented by the gays; or something like that.

Actually, anything you can come up with off the top of your head is going to be dumb. This is because you have not thought seriously about the matter. Nor has anyone else. This is how reluctant we are to even begin paying the price of spiritual error.

But do you like living like this? As they say: come with me if you want to live.

Where we’re going

In theory, we could end up in one of two places: peace or victory. As we’ll see, victory is much more realistic. Today we’ll talk about peace; so let’s start with victory.

(What about defeat? Defeat is impossible. Lies can win no permanent victory over the truth. The converse is not the case. The reason all empires fall, eventually, is that the empire has to win every time. But it does win almost every time.)

What does victory mean? It means regime change—like the regime change from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution, or from East Germany to just Germany. The offices of the old regime are just shut down—just as the offices of Google would be shut down, if Google somehow managed (insh’ Allah!) to go out of business.

And the old regime is not the formal power structure, but the actual power structure. The boundaries of the old regime are not coterminous with the official government: they contain everything that matters. In a regime change, every institution that used to matter either ceases to matter, or ceases to exist.

This is victory. Takbir! This is what will happen—the only question is when it happens. (Don’t hold your breath, friends.) And since we are not part of the regime, we cannot make it happen (perish the thought!). We can only be ready when it does happen; we can only be ready to supply the demand for a next regime, once this demand appears.

While this is not the fastest path to power, it is the safest and most reliable, and it has an excellent historical track record. Since the old regime knows it will last forever, it has no rational reason to take us seriously. But since we know no empire is forever, we are not afraid to take ourselves seriously.

Or did you imagine some kind of Rwandan civil war? America is not and will never be Rwanda (for better and for worse). We can replace our whole government without any machetes at all. If we could do it in 1787, we can do it now.

In particular: no regime change can happen if its end state represents the domination of any class over any other. This is not morals—just logic. It is historically impossible for a lower class to dominate an upper class; our lower class in particular is just too weak; and the converse is not a change. Hence no civil war is required—or possible.

Collectively, the upper class may be guilty as hell. Practically, it has to get off scot-free. “America,” as Bill Ayers put it, “is a great country.”

Ten requests

But: it’s still helpful to state our conditions of peace.

If the regime were to offer terms to us puny, ridiculous dissidents—which of course it would never do, still less do credibly—what terms would we accept, and be reconciled?

These terms are also the desiderata of victory—although one must never forget that it is victory that brings the desiderata, not vice versa.

Here are our requests—as dissidents. I obviously speak only for myself. But it is hard to imagine which of these points any other dissident would reject. And it is entirely impossible for me to see a regime which violates any of them as spiritually healthy.

If we wrap these requests up in one bundle and name that bundle, the only name that could fit is the restoration of the rule of law. I am a monarchist because taking a king, as the Israelites did with Saul and the Romans with Augustus, is the only real alternative I see to that only alternative to the rule of law—the rule of chaos—which is hell.

Hell is how we live now. How we live now is that chaos, politics, power and fear are in every building, on every street, in every home, in every classroom and every office, in your email and on your social network and in the very bowels of your phone. In the service of a fantastic and impossible vision of utopia, a vision toward which we are making no progress at all, we have turned ourselves into a republic of fear. Fuck this! At a minimum, I know no better way to tell hell what it has to be told: to get fucked. And that’s why I’m a monarchist.

But if by some amazing chance hell is ready to negotiate: here are ten principles I want. I’d like to think you want them too, dear reader.

1: The health of the citizens is the supreme law

In Latin, salus populi suprema lex: the sole purpose of government is to sustain the well-being of its citizens. Government is an irrevocable trust of guardianship, in loco parentis; the citizens are the principals and the government is the agent.

A regime that instead conceives itself as a universal charity, whose goal is to do as much good as possible in the world and in principle the galaxy, and which funds these good works by taxing a population of human tax-cattle, is judged harshly by this standard—much as a court would judge the manager of your condo association, if he skimmed off half the HOA’s landscaping fees and sent them to feed starving children in Somalia.

Once the agent in a principal-agent relationship is not acting solely on behalf of the principals, the relationship is corrupted; it is no longer operating lawfully. There is no way to state a system of law that allows the HOA manager to embezzle, but only for a good cause. The only lawful reason to tax or punish is for the benefit of the principals: that is, the citizens of the country.

If the homeowners want to get together and help the children of Somalia, nothing at all is stopping them. If they are too callous and self-interested to do so, we should not be surprised—just as we are not surprised that the cat is cruel to the mouse. In the end, how different is a man from a cat? And who doesn’t love a well-trimmed lawn?

But once we let dishonesty in the door, we will never be able to get it out—and in the end, how much will dishonesty do for Somalia? And in the end, how much good has our universal charity done? For example: how much good has it done—for Somalia?

2: Every citizen is equally protected under the law

Our system of “protected classes” is a prima facie insult to both our Constitution and our sense of common decency. Equal protection under the law must be restored.

This restoration must be more than words. Because the system of unequal protection is structurally embedded in the power structure of our prestigious institutions, and because there is no other system to systematically hold these institutions accountable, they must be restrained by clear and simple measures.

Therefore, all academic admissions and government positions must be awarded by competitive examination, taken and graded on equal terms. The private sector must be free to use examinations as well, and any form of discrimination must create liability. However, since nature is unequal, disparate impact is not evidence of discrimination—not like actual, proactive policies of discrimination, such as hiring quotas and goals.

3: The law does not notice trivia

The fundamental juridical principle of de minimis non curat lex states that the law does not notice trivia. Except for such well-known exceptions as slander, libel and fighting words, words and actions that do not cause or threaten tangible harm cannot be torts or crimes. Civil or criminal courts can take no account of such trifles.

An easy way to explain de minimis non curat lex, to an ordinary person with the ordinary quota of rocks in his head, is the problem of assholes. Is it good to be an asshole? Does the world benefit from assholery? Would not the world be a better place if there were no assholes—or better yet, if all the assholes reformed, giving up their asshole ways?

Given your answers, which are the same as mine: why isn’t it illegal to be an asshole? Or why can’t you at least sue someone, just for, like, being a major dick?

Because, in Queen Christina’s version, aquila non capit muscas—it is not just that the eagle does not care to eat the flies, but that it actually can’t catch them. The artillery of a court of law is too heavy and cumbersome to hale before it two human beings who just plain hate each other, and decide which of them is the asshole. For one thing, no tangible harm means no tangible evidence—which makes any court a kangaroo court.

When we look at “cancel culture,” what we are seeing is the social penumbra of a legal change made in the 1960s, which drove a truck through this previously ironclad rule. Once power took an interest in these fundamentally unjuridicable questions, power had an excuse to go everywhere. And it used that excuse.

America in the ‘20s has to live with concepts like wrongthink and cancellation because the ‘60s decided to flip the bird to this eminently-sensible 2000-year-old principle of law, de minimis non curat lex, and make it illegal to be an asshole.

To certain classes of people. Who were held back from prospering. Because assholes were conspiring to be assholes to them. How’s that conspiracy theory looking? Are your protected classes prospering yet? Remember Justice O’Connor’s 2028 deadline? In the bowels of Christ, I beseech you: think it possible you might be mistaken.

We soon found out who the “assholes” were. As usual, they were the enemies of power: whomever needed to be purged. Whenever a fundamental principle of jurisprudence is violated, it is always to pervert the law into an arbitrary weapon of political tyranny.

The restoration of de minimis non curat lex means nothing more or less than the end of America’s soft reign of terror. And yes: there should also be reparations.

4: Every citizen has freedom of association

Freedom of association must be restored. Who you live or work with is your business. The government must not be in the business of social engineering—at least not social engineering that doesn’t work, like its attempt to homogenize our nonhomogeneous population with the giant spinning blades of ever more-intrusive tyranny.

How are those racial dot maps looking? Does America need another 50 years on puree? Is there anything really wrong with an all-black software company, an all-Mormon Kia dealership, or an all-Chinese Chinese restaurant? Fuck you, and fuck your blender. Variety is good. Variety is human. And variety is the opposite of homogeneity.

5: Collective grievances are socially unacceptable

I am a big amnesty fan. All of history’s great amnesties have come in restorations. The best title of any was the amnesty of the Restoration of Charles II, the “Act of Free and General Pardon, Indemnity, and Oblivion.”

“Piracy, buggery and witchcraft” were ineligible for the new King’s amnesty. Well, we’ve certainly learned a lot about alternative lifestyles. But what really jumps out at us is this beautiful word, Oblivion. Doesn’t that sound nice, right about now? Oblivion?

Every collective grievance is a cold civil war. The emotion of war is the emotion of collective grievance; war itself is a collective trial of that grievance. One nation goes to war with another because it is collectively angry at the other. In 1969, El Salvador went to war with Honduras over a soccer game.

A healthy regime, let alone a civilized regime, tolerates civil war, whether it is cold civil war or hot civil war, about the way a healthy human being tolerates toe cancer. Always and everywhere, collective grievances are useless and socially destructive.

The only way in which collective grievances are useful is if they lead to a war which the good guys win—at a cost which leaves the win still worth it. A rough cliometric approximation reveals that this happens approximately never.

Now, the settlement of every collective grievance is just that: a settlement. It is by no means the case that all collective grievances—essentially a class-action suit, but on a political scale—are invalid. Do the Jews not have a valid collective grievance against the Germans? Not every settlement is zero.

But we might also ask: how long will this collective grievance last? To whom, exactly, does it apply? And do the Welsh have a valid grievance against the English? When we say that collective grievance is not useful, we are saying that war is not useful; and we cannot say that.

But what we can say is that oblivion is peace. The fundamental principle of peace is that the world started yesterday. Do you want peace? Then you want oblivion. Is a settlement appropriate? Only when it will help bring oblivion.

It does not matter what passed, five hundred years ago and more, between Owen Glendower and Prince Hal; it does not matter that the Turk had no right to take Constantinople, or that the Buddha gave Ceylon to the Sinhalese; the arrangements of King Solomon are of no relevance to the Israeli-Lebanese border; we cannot say that history has no use; but nursing grudges is not a valid use of it. One begins to see, in fact, why the Qin Emperor burned all those books.

And it is just a fact of government that disturbing the peace is always going to find power set against it; and whatever power is set against, will be socially unacceptable. Just as it is socially unacceptable to even talk about Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda today. Do you have a problem with this?

6: Every citizen gets the same information

If the government or academy releases information, it must release all information to everyone at the same time—without any leaks or embargoes. Stealing information for profit, from either the government or the private sector, must be held a crime. If you have something to leak in the public interest—you must leak it straight to the public.

A version of this regulation is in place in the financial sector—“Reg FD”—and it it is one of the best regulations ever regulated. It eliminated a fat-cat insider-information channel which let favored analysts and their clients make free money by front-running the market, stealing a little bit from everyone else.

It is not too strong to say that the power to intermediate authentic information is the power to rule. This is why we live in a press-controlled state. A monopoly that can filter and shape the stream of authentic information can present any reality it wants—and in every form of government, control over the public mind is the root of power.

A media organization which cannot steal information from the government cannot compete with one that can. (This used to be called “inspired” journalism.) Those in the government who broker the leak gain power themselves—often creating a status in which this corruption routinely goes totally unenforced, like driving 65 in a 55 zone. Until, of course, it pisses off the wrong person… we are in the Third World here.

And not least, these “sources” gain power over the media organization itself—and through it, over the public mind. It is impossible to imagine a greater conflict of interest, or a more fatal one. When real people with fancy degrees and John Lennon glasses wonder why subhuman sand-state morons believe Macedonian malware ads over the New York Times—maybe they should try asking the nonrhetorical question. The morons may not know not why they see what they see; they see what they see.

7: The government makes all its own decisions

A healthy organization does not extend trust outside its own permanent personnel. When it has to make technical decisions, it needs staff with the technical capacity to make those decisions in a way that the organization itself trusts. This is true of every corporation, and certainly true of every government.

Moreover, the government’s permanent staff must have the relationship with experts outside the government that the NSA’s cryptographers have with their academic peers—not the relationship that NOAA’s climate modelers have with their academic peers.

The government’s brain must be separate from the private brain—if possible, better—and it must be completely normal for the public brain to disagree with the private one. And no one can have a career that crosses the line. This would defeat the redundancy.

The 20th-century practice is for the government to extend its trust to private experts. By doing so, it leaks power. This is even worse than leaking information.

The power leak disrupts the epistemic process of the private experts, who develop an incentive to expand this life-giving canal. The experts naturally tend to favor ideas that generate power—a bias that works against reason. Soon, their delicate, beautiful, nerdy minds are hopelessly bent by the savage Bolivian marching-powder of power.

And by definition, they have zero accountability to go with their authority. Acton was wrong: it is not absolute power that corrupts. It is absolute and unaccountable power. A properly structured organization never gives anyone authority without responsibility—yet this is exactly what we see here.

8: The government is liable for crime

The purpose of government is to maintain a monopoly of coercion. Crime is a tiny bubble of regime change: a tyranny, local and instant, that violates that monopoly.

In a healthy nation, anyone can walk safely down any street at any time of day or night. There is no visible litter or decay. Crime between strangers is reduced to the minimum of sudden and unexpected insanity. Can you imagine living in a country like this? Can you imagine how it would feel? For many people in the world, it is completely normal.

And where this duty to retain a monopoly of power is violated, public safety is treated like airline safety. Who made the mistake? Why? How can it not happen again? In any of our common crimes, it is always possible to check the perpetrator’s record and find the signs of predictable deviation. Once those signs start to stack up in the printer tray—the perp is only the instrument. The real criminal is the regime that unleashes this instrument on the public, like a little boy investigating what can be done with flies.

In any case, whatever the cause or severity of its negligence, the government has failed in its duty and is responsible. Therefore, it must compensate the victim for any loss.

(It is worth noting that this applies only to crime proper: predation on civilians. Huge numbers of people are currently in prison for actions that are normal within their own subcultures—actions of an essentially military character—a terrible use of resources. But the victims of these deeds are no more innocent than the perpetrators are guilty.)

9: The government is financially simple

A healthy and stable government, like a healthy and stable business, funds operating expenses from operating revenues, with a healthy reserve and a pattern of consistent but modest surpluses, fluctuating only with unpredictable, extrinsic events.

A healthy government does not lend or borrow. It does not print or debase its money; it keeps its accounts in a hard currency that it does not control; it does not manipulate financial markets; it does not guarantee private loans; it does not issue derivatives of any kind, formal or especially informal; and it does not tolerate or protect unstable or unsound financial structures.

Historically, when we see a regime breaking any of these rules—and once any of them is broken, all of them will sooner or later be broken—we know that it has one purpose, which is to evade fiscal accountability. Always and everywhere, the purpose of what John Stuart Mill called “The Currency Juggle” is the same: to conceal ongoing losses.

There are excellent reasons for governments to lose money. One is war. In a sense, the trouble with the 20th-century financial system is that it never stopped being a wartime financial system. In World War I it entered a state of permanent emergency that it has never left. Restructuring our financial system back to a peacetime state—essentially an enormous bankruptcy—is a hard problem that no one has ever had the power to solve.

An organization which must hide massive ongoing losses is an unhealthy organization. Isn’t it strange, Mr. Spock, how all our instruments are giving us the same signal? The worst thing, though, is when the power to hide massive ongoing losses migrates from the public to the private sector—subjecting actual productive industry to the same loss of financial discipline that turns every unaccountable bureaucracy into a human blob.

Converting this giant bleeding monster of a financial system into a safe and healthy financial market for borrowing, lending and hedging in a hard currency is not just a hard problem in the sense that it takes a previously-undreamed of level of political power; it is also a fiendishly-complex challenge in financial engineering. Which just goes to show you that the restoration will need everyone, even the finance monkeys.

10: The government curates labor demand

You know those big things in Egypt? The pyramids?

Man is the animal that works. A human being who does not work, and work to the limit of his talent and energy, is dehumanized. His spiritual health is damaged. The regime whose citizen he is has allowed its human capital to depreciate.

A regime which, in conditions of widespread underemployment and unemployment, chooses to both import labor and outsource production, is like a man with cirrhosis who is drinking himself to death. Of course he feels like he needs a fifth of Absolut every day. And of course he feels terrible when he tries to stop. And of course he has taught himself to rationalize it with a bunch of mathematical astrology.

Of course the imported labor is better and the outsourced production is cheaper. Of course it feels better to be drunk. Isn’t that why you drink? When you drink, you are destroying the most vital organ of your body—and your brain, which is vital too, just needs to suck it up and taste the pain. It will hurt to stop but it will not kill you—so long as you taper off properly, of course.

Let us posit that the median roofing abilities of young Guatemalan males are superior to those of young African-American males. Let us posit that Tamils, on average, write cleaner Javascript than Iowans. Let us even suppose that the Hasids of Amsterdam are more cunning diamond merchants than the Hasids of Queens.

Under a spiritually healthy regime, one which respected the principle of salus populi suprema lex, this would not mean the American producers are crushed under the iron wheels of those superior foreigners. What it would mean is that, at least until the work improves the worker—and perhaps there is a limit to this—American consumers will have to live with leakier roofs, sloppier code, and slightly less glittering diamonds. Because we live in a society. Sorry, libertarians (and liberaltarians).

Inventing a technology that abolished all work, simply by being better and cheaper than humans at all tasks, would not be doing humanity a favor. The regime that got its hands on this technology would either have to destroy it, or learn how to control it. As with the rest of these principles, the old regime has barely thought about this problem—even in the abstract.

Except to laugh at the pyramids. Those pyramids will be there, kid, when you’re not.

The path to a new FDR

These ten requests, while absolutely reasonable, are relatively absurd. Politics is the art of the possible; and in the politics of the 20th-century regime, every one of these principles is so outré as to be not just impossible—but downright ridiculous.

As axioms of a new post-revolutionary regime, however, they remain quite sensible. Enumerating our desiderata makes it clear why preparing for the future is a much, much better strategy for dissidents than trying to change the present.

Of course, we still have to keep the present from killing us. After all, we want to take their precious democracy away and replace it with a king. Said precious democracy may not be working that well, true—but there is no alternative (TINA). Interestingly, “Tina” is also a synonym for meth.

And of course they react like we want to take their meth away. They react as if we had proposed to bury their grandmothers alive—as if we had literally asked them if we could come to their house, put grandma in a box, drive her out to the woods, throw the box in a pit, cover it with dirt, then come back to the house and open all the windows.

Why—open the windows? Because your grandma was dead. She’d actually been dead for almost 80 years. Don’t tell me you didn’t notice it was getting a little—stuffy?

Democracy in America, which is either (a) the same thing as politics in America, or (b) an Orwellian lie, ended in 1933 with the coronation of our previous monarch. Do you know who had the power to get all ten of these things done? And more?

FDR did. Do you know what I am asking for, when I ask for a new king? I am asking for a new FDR. Of course, he or she will be utterly different from the last one.

For example, one of my most prominent critics is the prehensile Glen Weyl, a man so sinuous he can beat a weasel at yoga and once tied his own ass in a bowline hitch. Yet Weyl, to whom democracy means whatever it needs to mean right now, is hugely smitten with one Great Man, or rather Great Woman: Audrey Tang.

Among this Tang person’s achievements are: designing the world’s most successful COVID-19 response; writing a Perl 6 VM in Haskell; having an IQ of 180—isn’t that enough? Why not make her Queen of America? It’s true that Tang, being some kind of a Celestial, is not eligible for our Presidency—but she’s certainly eligible for Queen.

While modern fertility science is a huge technology boost for hereditary monarchy, some of the best monarchies in history—notably the Antonines—were adoptive. A new tradition of sterile transgender monarchs would be absolutely perfect—because it was a reversion to the hereditary principle that brought down the Antonines.

Why not just hang the Constitution—forget that stupid xenophobic old piece of paper—grant Audrey Tang the powers of FDR—then just step back, and see what happens? Surely this is one proposal that we can all get behind! I’m joking, of course—but, not. I’m sure Tang believes all kinds of stupid things. But the office also molds the person.

Whatever happened to FDR’s old powers, anyway? A monarchy, especially a huge one like FDR’s, trivially turns into an oligarchy. The New Deal was already aligned with the East Coast establishment; to a substantial extent it was that establishment in power; and the dying FDR chose, as his successor, a complete nonentity—with the pharaonic intent of letting his personal regime evolve into a permanent “deep state.” (Or at least this is my theory of Truman, and I know not a better one.)

The Washington FDR built would never be run from the top down again. And with the birth of the New Deal the old American regime, in which politicians actually mattered, was dead. To use a word like political or populist as a pejorative is to acknowledge the reality of this death. Democracy died because it sucked, everyone hated it, and in the end it just didn’t have the strength to live. None of these things has gotten any better.

Obviously, literal democracy is politics or nothing; if a politician can’t win an election and be given control of the government, there is no democracy; and to the extent that political control of the government is incomplete, democracy is incomplete. Anyone who knows anything about DC knows just how incomplete it is.

There are only three forces of sovereignty: democracy, oligarchy and monarchy. It is impossible to imagine a stable democracy in the modern world; this form of power depends on a level of civic virtue and energy that certainly does not exist, if it ever did. When we consider the loss of civic virtue and energy since the birth of the New Deal, we see the futility of restoring this form of government.

This leaves oligarchy and monarchy. The main advantage of oligarchy is its stability. One monarchical regime can replace another, but no oligarchy can replace another. Defeating an oligarchy requires the integration of monarchical and democratic power; only democracy can supply the energy, and only monarchy can supply the direction. The perfect way to do it is the way FDR did.

Of course, power can go to anyone’s head. They can develop literal vascular dementia, like Stalin. The right kind of monarchy is an absolute, but accountable, monarchy. The engineering of this design at a sovereign level is too complex to get into here, but all the world’s corporations—the organizations that actually make stuff—work this way. Moreover, although it has never functioned as one and has many flaws, it is easy to see the ideal of an accountable monarchy in the design of our Constitution itself.

(And by the way, it’s not at all impossible for Americans to elect Audrey Tang, or even Elon Musk—even though both of them are technically ineligible. Actually, electing an ineligible candidate is a huge democratic flex—what, is someone not going to let the winner in the door? And it really shows how much business you mean.)

To say that America is ready for this mild and traditional form of regime change would be going much too far. The people are not ready to extend their trust; and, the genius of Mx. Tang aside, no one is ready to accept their trust. But the process of becoming ready, on both sides, is a long (and quite passive) process of discourse and education.

The fifth column

Of course, there is another way. It’s not like the USSR had elections, after all.

The USSR was much more vulnerable, because it was much more centralized; but the fundamental cause of its demise operates in every empire. The USSR fell not because it was subjugated by external enemies, but because it was subverted by internal enemies.

While in general I don’t believe in direct action—we dissidents do have a fifth column. Naturally, comrade, you wish to know the identities of these traitors! I have the list.

The list is all of you—every human being with any power or prestige under this regime. Now, not everyone is human. There are some reptiles—sociopaths, psychopaths and so on—it’s normal; every organization has them; even at worst, they are a small minority; there are not a lot of Dirlewanger Brigades, especially not in America; and…

Everyone else has a conscience. Our fifth column is the army of those consciences. It is not just inside your walls—it is inside your heads. Good luck with that.