The sword waits in its stone. Will you pull it?
To revive the aristocracy we must understand it. For what is nobility?
The qualities that make men noble has varied across the ages and cultures of the West. There are aspects that remain constant, however.
A society has an aristocracy when the genuinely superior rules the inferior. The question of whether rulers are truly more excellent than their subjects is essential: if this is not the case, then oligarchy - not aristocracy - is present, and there is a tyrant, not a king.
If it is administered by a few men of virtue, this kind of government is called an aristocracy, i.e. noble governance, or governance by noble men…
— St. Thomas Aquinas, De Regno
The natural question, then, is superior according to which standards?
Cultures emphasize different virtues, including across the physical and spiritual dimensions of excellence, but the essential common factor is that the virtues of the aristocratic class make them a more perfect reflection of that society’s understanding of divinity.
To maintain and wield power, the nobility must act and be understood as a manifestation of the Divine Will. They must hold the Mandate of Heaven. An anti-egalitarian philosophy will only hold as long as the spiritual superiority of one man over the other is self-evident.
In The Republic, Plato makes a comparison between political arrangements and the higher and lower faculties of the soul, with monarchy corresponding to reason, and democracy and tyranny representing the passions. Thus the legitimate noble is he who rules unswayed by the tides of his temptations, but instead embodies the the conjunction of “political power and philosophic intelligence”.
St. Augustine brings this conception into the Christian conception of nobility. Kings must be stoic in maintaining their orientation towards the eternal:
…we do not call Christian princes happy merely because they have reigned a long time, or because after a peaceful death they have left their sons to rule, or because they subdued the enemies of the state, or because they were able to guard against or to suppress citizens who rose up against them. Rather do we call them happy if they rule justly, if they prefer to rule their passions rather than nations, and if they do all things not for the love of vainglory but for the love of eternal happiness.
Aquinas likewise emphasizes the necessary attribute of incorruptibility in kings; this is essential for preventing them from collapsing into tyrants. This occurs when their temptations corrupt them and they use their kingly status to pursue cheap pleasures.
Here it is interesting for us to note that this attribute - incorruptibility - will be essential for us in our time, if we are to turn away from the modern world and return to a traditional reality, and in so doing forgo all of the pleasures that decadent modernity offers.
The failure to do this will be the distinguishing mark of false prophets and grifters. The leisure classes are justified by the recognition that aristocrats have the right to avoid the toil of labor because - by engaging in reading and contemplation instead - they can cultivate the prudence and vision necessary to lead the masses in the direction of spiritual and physical vitality. When their wealth is instead squandered on luxury, this justification collapses and decadence results.
In its worst form, this corruption of the aristocracy results in an active effort to weaken their people, fearing that a vigorous and virtuous populace threatens their degenerate rulership.
For tyrants hold the good in greater suspicion than the wicked, and to them the valour of others is always fraught with danger…
So the above-mentioned tyrants strive to prevent those of their subjects who have become virtuous from acquiring valour and high spirit in order that they may not want to cast off their iniquitous domination.
— Aquinas, De Regno
In this essay, we will not dwell the many ways that aristocracy can become corrupted, because we have seen enough of that in our time. We are familiar with the form of the fallen and pathetic nature of our modern rulers. Let us return then, to the true teleology of the king.
Every traditional civilization is characterized by the presence of beings who, by virtue of their innate or acquired superiority over the human condition, embody within the temporal order the living and efficacious presence of a power that comes from above. One of these types of beings is the pontifex, according to the inner meaning of the word and according to the original value of the function that he exercised. Pontifex means "builder of bridges," or of "paths" (pons, in ancient times, also meant "path") connecting the natural and the supernatural dimensions. Moreover, the pontifex was traditionally identified with the king (rex).
— Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World
Here, then, we have our task. To become living bridges into a higher existence that those that follow can traverse. To ever widen the aperture of our connection with the divine. To become saints that we may become kings.
Thus, real monarchs were the steadfast personification of the life "beyond ordinary life." Beneficial spiritual influences used to radiate upon the world of mortal beings from the mere presence of such men, from their "pontifical" mediation, from the power of the rites that were rendered efficacious by their power, and from the institutions of which they were the center. These influences permeated people's thoughts, intentions, and actions, ordering every aspect of their lives and constituting a fit foundation for luminous, spiritual realizations.
This vision cannot be dismissed as Evola using grandiose language to present a psychedelic and imaginary ‘world of tradition’. In fact, this philosophy is central to the Christian monarchical tradition, as was well understood by the rulers at the height of our civilizational summer. From a letter of St. Thomas Aquinas to the King of Cyprus:
Therefore let the king recognize that such is the office which he undertakes, namely, that he is to be in the kingdom what the soul is in the body, and what God is in the world. If he reflect seriously upon this, a zeal for justice will be enkindled in him when he contemplates that he has been appointed to this position in place of God, to exercise judgment in his kingdom…
The king is indeed the minister of God in governing the people, as the Apostle' says: "All power is from the Lord God" and God's minister is "an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil."
— Aquinas, De Regno
The recognition of this reality is also implicit in the ideology of our spiritual foes. It is precisely this order and connection that the ‘Enlightenment’ launched its assault on.
Egalitarianism seeks to break apart hierarchy and its accompanying sense of authority and legitimacy, dividing that legitimacy among multiple poles and introducing confusion into society which paralyses its institutions at all levels into inactivity and decadence.
—, Hierarchy and Authority as Necessary Components of Civilisation
And so we must form the new nobility. In a world lacking this nobility, I consider it the duty of each of us to attempt the ascent, and to discover if it is our destiny to succeed. Each of us must place our hands on the sword in the stone, and learn if it is God’s will that we wield Excalibur.
As we attempt the ascent, some of us will make it, and others will at least discover the path, that their sons may follow and climb yet higher.
The first step: