Most of academia assumes St Tsar Nicholas II was a horrible ruler. Even if he wasn’t a draconian overlord busy censoring newspapers and drowning puppies (if we are to believe the slander), he was still a foolish ruler.
That’s what we are told. How best to respond to it? I have often responded to the current chaos of modern republicanism and pointed out factual errors in the reports on the Tsar. To no avail. I realize the Russian theologian Sergei Bulgakov handled it best:
[Bulgakov] abandoned his republicanism and developed an intense devotion to the ideal of monarchy–indeed, to the person of the Tsar. He was, he says, fully aware of the corruption of the tsarist system and of the personal weakness and suicidal incompetence of Nicholas II; but he was at the same time struck by the sense of the tsar as carrying the cross for his people, of the tsar not as the presiding authority in a police state, but as the symbolic focus of Russia in all its pain and confusion. To be a tsarist in this context was, he says, to share in that pain and confusion.
Share in the pain and confusion. Ultimately, given our fallen world (and due to the crisis of the times, it appears even more fallen), this is what “political imagination” is about. Yes, I really do believe that holy monarchy is infinitely superior to anything Modernity has to offer. That being said, I really don’t have all the answers. There are many issues about theology and government that I simply can’t answer (though in hindsight, after dropping theonomy many difficult areas simply disappeared). Theo-Political imagination sees the current confusion, realizes this is God’s creation, and “wonders” what is a Christic, healing alternative to the current chaos. N. T. Wright said it best, “Monarchy is an angled mirror that lets us see around the corners to the next world.” Monarchy is not ultimate, and monarchy itself does not save (though it often facilitates healing and salvation), but like the angled mirror, it can point us beyond the current crisis.