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The End of a Dynasty

Signs of decadence are everywhere, indicating that the dynasty that has ruled us for decades must soon be replaced by a new royal house.

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Had the United States the form of government decreed by God, a monarchy, the hottest political question would be how to replace a failing dynasty. The current monarch is a dead Inca. The Incas believed their kings could not die, so when one did, they continued to dress him in his finery and trot him out on state occasions. The dead Inca’s successor is a blowzy woman with the IQ of a squirrel. As Nietzsche said, when you see something rotten that is about to fall, give it a push.

The current dynasty began in 1933. What might we call it? The Snafu dynasty has a nice Egyptian ring to it, so let’s go with that. Its principal goal was that of 18th century progressives: eliminating all restrictions on the king and turning a limited into an absolute monarchy. Untrammeled by estates general, courts of law, and provincial privileges, an enlightened, disinterested monarch could right all wrongs by listening to philosophers and applying reason in ways they recommended. It didn’t work. If we compare the moral and cultural health of America Inc. 1933 to today, we see the Snafu dynasty has royally fouled things up.


Six signs are common indicators that a dynasty has come to an end. The first is spreading disorder and a loss of control of the borders. The state arose for the sole purpose of establishing and maintaining order, safety of persons and property. From the 1960s onward, we have accepted disorder in our inner cities, and we are now allowing it to flow massively across our southern border. There can be no more dire dynastic failure than putting the legitimacy of the state itself in danger.

A second sign is that all the prospective candidates for the throne are morons. Not a single prince royal, archduke, infante, or even royal bastard from the current ruling house shows the slightest promise of competent rule. We got a brief taste of what a new dynasty might be able to do with the surprise reign of Donald I. But the harem and the court eunuchs conspired against him, blocked most of his reforms, and eventually drove him out. Many commoners hope for his return, but the court and its parasites continue to worship the dead Inca.

A third mark of a dynasty’s imminent end is burgeoning debt. The court lives far beyond its means, it requires ever larger loans, and interest consumes a growing portion of its revenues. By 1789, interest on the debt soaked up more than half the revenues of the French state. We know how that ended. Now as then, no cutbacks are possible because the gloire of the dynasty and its commitments abroad may not be brought into question.

A fourth sign a dynasty is about to fall is that it loses most of its wars. The wars themselves are avoidable. They are fought to amuse and profit the king and his courtiers—the old term is “cabinet wars”— not because the nation faces a real danger. But despite lavishing endless gold on the armed forces, they usually lose. Were a vigorous dynasty on the throne, the king himself would lead a pitiless investigation into why the defeats happened, what reforms are necessary, and who among the senior military leadership should be shot. Under the Snafu dynasty, no one cares whether we win or lose so long as the money keeps flowing.

A fifth sign of imminent fall is that nothing works. Despite enormous budgets, the services the state exists to provide are done poorly if at all. Cities’ streets fill with garbage and importuning beggars, children leave school unable to read, write, or figure, and bureaucrats rule out any idea that might work. Spreading inkblots represent areas where if you want security, you must hire it yourself.


The sixth and final sign embraces all the others: the royal court no longer cares about the rest of the country. The only politics that matter are those of the court itself: who is in favor, who is out, what faction is rising, which are slipping, who was invited to the latest fête galante and who was not. The world beyond the court is “flyover land,” inhabited by common people whom the court regards as stupid cows to be milked and beaten.

A cartoon I kept for years showed a campaign poster for Nicholas II as if he were running in 1917 for Tsar. His slogan was, “You’ve never heard from me before, and if I win, you will never hear from me again.” That was unfair to a man who cared deeply about his people, but it perfectly captures the attitude of the Snafu dynasty in Memphis on the Potomac.

I suspect the dead Inca will be the last of this dynasty. What might replace it? Like the Emperor Claudius, I harbor a sneaking fondness for restoring the republic, in our case as it existed from the ratification of the Constitution to 1860. The federal government was small and weak, its business confined largely to foreign policy, national defense (where we minded our own business), and some infrastructure projects such as the National Road. Most matters were dealt with locally or at the state level, often not by government at all.

But if the empire is to continue, a dynasty that knows its business stands ready at hand. Someone once asked Kaiser Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary what his actual job was as Emperor. He replied, “My job is protecting my people from their government.” That’s my kind of kaiser, and the House of Habsburg can always spare an Archduke.