…by virtue of resting empty and reposed, [the intelligent ruler] waits for the course of nature to enforce itself so that all names will be defined of themselves and all affairs will be settled of themselves. Empty, he knows the essence of fullness: reposed, he becomes the corrector of motion. Who utters a word creates himself a name; who has an affair creates himself a form. Compare forms and names and see if they are identical. Then the ruler will find nothing to worry about as everything is reduced to its reality.
-Han Fei Zi: Chapter V. The Tao of the Sovereign
The Chinese concept of the Mandate of Heaven testifies to the fact that political success is the product of both Fate, or the grace of God, and human talent. The existence of any functioning or flourishing civic polity is not purely the creation of the will of particular man, it is also partly constituted by a fortuitous, or providential, combination of various events and action which enables it as such.
Westerners on the other hand are rather “romantic” in the Miltonian sense. As John Milton’s Satan puts it, better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven. To unpack this saying, to the Western mind it is more noble, more romantic, for a person to exert himself, to act out his subjective passions, to be wilful, assertive, regardless of its results or its ends, even if it leads “to hell”, rather than to passively “serve in heaven” like a sheep. The assertion of human agency, on this conception, is more important than human calculation of whether such agency is able to attain its ends or objectives.
I’ve observed that in alt-right circles it is very popular to rubbish the British monarchy and respect for them as “larping”, and for taking seriously an institution or person who no longer is effectual nor can do anything in today’s world. In a word, they are completely useless. They want man of action, passion, exertion, able to take command of both their own and the destinies of other around them. The archetype Miltonian Satan, who leads courageous and romantic war against the bounds of Heavens in aid of claims to greater glory than that allowed by God. Brave rebellion against all the heavenly forces arrayed against them, but eventually futile as God blasts them all out of Heaven for daring to transgress against the facts laid down by Providence.
In this we can observe two great “fascist rulers”, the great Napoleon (more accurately a proto-fascist) and Adolf Hitler. They were both man of great passion, conviction and action. They were also undoubtedly man of great achievement. Both conquered so much territory in Europe to rival that of the Roman Empire. However, a momentary outburst of passion was all that they were capable of. In the end they left nothing behind nor did their achievement outlast their passion. Napoleon lost everything within his own lifetime and Hitler, well, we know what happened to Nazi Germany.
What this goes on to demonstrate is that passion, and even temporary success, do not necessary go on to create institutions or entities capable of long term survival. While action is the necessary condition for achieving anything, it is not a sufficient condition. We must acknowledge that there is often an element of luck and right climate for being able to accomplish great things. Reality is not infinitely plastic or malleable to the will of man.
Let’s go back to the Queen of Britain. The fact of the matter is that it is not the proper climate for her to intervene in political affairs. There are environmental limits to her actions. Sometimes great man, or woman in this case, must act, but sometimes they have to read the signs of the times and keep their heads down and ride through unfavourable times. Sometimes one simply needs to endure and survive until more favourable circumstances comes along. There is no point throwing everything away in some romantic rebellion against the facts of the ground if that simply leads to one’s own self-annihilation. Romantic to be sure, but completely suicidal.
As such at the moment interventionists monarch are not feasible. What is important for the British monarchy is simply to outlast the current mania about the infinite efficacy of democracy before they can act. In East Asian cultures traditionally the Emperor may have theoretically be almighty but they are often supposed not to do anything or make very few decisions and only in extraordinary times, otherwise known as the doctrine of “wuwei”. To take a slight detour into Chinese Legalist philosophy, the role of the Legalist ruler is ironically simply to centralise all power so that no one else may abuse it. A weirdly republican argument for so draconian a philosophy.
Rather, in a Legalist order swarms of civil servants and efficaciously and ruthlessly enforced laws would manage and coordinate the commonwealth. But the decision making itself would be mostly handled by the mandarins, the Legalist ruler must be careful not to betray his intention or thoughts lest his officials distort their judgement to please him. All the Legalist ruler does is to appoint people according to strict rules, but he himself does nothing so that he reveals nothing as to his desires. This is to keep all his “power” inaccessible to his army of officials, that they might tend to their duty and their immediate task without distorting their judgement with hopes of being able to access and manipulate the power of the emperor.
The Legalist system therefore is, ironically in a way, rather republican. A rule of law rather than whims, where centralisation of power is meant to keep it out of the hands of everyone else rather than to be exercised. This is not to say that the Legalist ruler cannot use his power but he should only do so in extraordinary times when it is needed, otherwise he should just follow the explicitly laid down regulations and procedures for such appointments.
As such, the crisis point has not yet been reached such that the British monarch’s intervention in politics would be welcome. Rather, wisely understanding that the opportune moment has not arrived, the British monarchy waits, building up its storehouse and treasury of legitimacy and minimising its losses until the fullness of time is come.
Westerners in general are passionate impatient people, more given to romantic exertions of subjectivity over rational patient caution and calculation. However, there is a reason why patient Otto Von Bismarck managed to build a great Germany capable of outlasting his death while the passionate Emperor Wilhelm II squandered it in a fit. A lot of the sense of urgency and anxiety of the Westerners are due to an overactive imagination on the inevitable path which the world or a locality would take. Thus they believe that reactionary and passionate action is necessary to arrest it even if it be futile and ineffectual. However while we should and must make predictions, it is foolish to allow paranoia to cloud one’s judgement and project too inevitable to distant a Fate. Rather we should acknowledge our limited predictive capabilities and always make room for the unexpected, and wait for the chance to come when it is ripe to act.