There's still room, however, for the argument that, depending on circumstances, autocratic monarchy is not necessarily the best form of government. One can perfectly well argue for the legitimacy of, e.g. the American Revolution, without compromising Orthodoxy, provided one doesn't fall into the trap of arguing that monarchy can never be legitimate.
I think that describes how I feel. Too much good has come out of liberal democracy to say that monarcy is the only legitimate option for Orthodox.
Of course, 'good' needs definition. Spiritual or material good? Material good I'll grant; spiritual good is questionable.
But it begs the question. We don't know how 20th/21st autocratic monarchy as in the Byzantine Empire or the Russian Empire would have interacted with modern spiritual development. Material progress would not have been halted, we have to assume the development of modern technologies, medical progress and mass information distribution methods in an alternative history. To assume 'things would have stayed the same spiritually' under a modern Tsar or Emperor is to romanticize and gloss over excesses of the past and the reality of human material and intellectual progress. The Church has had to adapt with a multitude of change since the Apostolic eras in terms of human cultures and human intellectual development. Why do some assume She will not continue to do so? (BTW, I am not implying that Jonathan is doing so, following his posts over the years, while he is a traditionalist, he surely is not a pessimist!)
Pessimism, no; realism, yes. We're very used to thinking of ourselves as morally superior to our ancestors, according to modern progressive education, but the usual attitude in Orthodoxy is pretty much that we are always morally inferior to the earlier generation. Exceptions I can think of include right after Pentecost, when the new members of the Church were noted for their zeal, or other, exceptional periods of moral and spiritual renewal. But the general trend things do get worse, rather than better, at least when you look at human history. The Church's saints have invariably prophesied a tendency to greater spiritual degradation, until we reach the nadir in the Antichrist. So there's an element of pessimism, of course. But there's also optimism, because the opportunity to repent is always available to us, as far as the Second Coming, and we know that Christ is already the victor in the end.
We've become very good at making life comfortable and materially easy for ourselves, but unfortunately this is precisely the condition that the Fathers warn us to avoid. We're all like the rich young man who wouldn't be saved because he loved his possessions too much.
Was the Byzantine or Tsarist past perfect? No, and neither are the Fathers individually infallible. But saying they are theoretically fallible does not mean we can feel superior to them in any significant way. Likewise, I think we should recognize that in general the earlier eras of Orthodox society were superior to us in their way of life and zeal for the faith.
I know this sounds pessimistic, but the Zeitgeist is so thoroughly imbued with false, anti-Chistian progressivism that a strong counter-statement is needed.
If you're still not convinced, you can try a simple empirical test. If we are really spiritually superior to our fathers, as the progressives believe, then we would surpass them in fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Fasting I use in the broad sense of self-denial. And by almsgiving I don't mean voting in governments that redistribute wealth by bureaucratic force, but personally giving up one's excess wealth for others.