12 July 2010

Thoughts on the World Cup

Cephalopods aside, I think the most important fact about the 2010 World Cup is that it was the first in which both finalists were teams from monarchies - and that after a run of seven finals in a row between two republic teams.

His Majesty King Juan Carlos becomes the third monarch to reign over world cup winners, following Victor Emmanuel III of Italy (1934 and 1938) and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (1966).

Monarchies have lost to republics in 3 finals, Sweden to Brazil in 1958, and The Netherlands to West Germany in 1974 and to Argentina in 1978. So Her Majesty Queen Beatrix joins Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden, and her mother Queen Juliana as monarchs of world cup runners-up.

What does this break in the trend signify? Possibly a resurgence of Europe relative to monarchyless South America, but that doesn't cover the poor showing of France and Italy.

Other factoids arising from Victor Emmanuel III and fascism: Mussolini was deposed by Victor Emmanuel in a proper constitutional manner in 1943, and German President Paul von Hinderburg's will is believed to have expressed a desire for Germany to return to a monarchy. (The History Place says he did, Wikipedia says it's disputed).

It is the received wisdom that in 1933-34, Hitler's oratory was so supernaturally spooky that he convinced the German people even to abandon democracy to put him in power. It seems more likely that by then democracy had failed so badly that any alternative looked like a good idea. But that's not the stuff to give the troops.

1 comment:

A Nonny Mouse said...

I don’t know where you think you’re going with this monarchism bullshit. In point of fact, none of the finalists and none of the competitors were monarchies. Monarchy is rule by a single individual. It works on this wise. Immediately after his succession, the new monarch enthusiastically attempts to rule the country. For a certain period, shall we call it a year. As there is only so much time between breakfast and supper, this is largely impossible. The next year, he carries on out of a sense of duty. The third year, he announces that he does not want to be bothered with this ruling crap, but if there are any fit women around would you please send them up. Monarchy then gives way to pornocracy: porne is Greek for prostitute.

Often after this the populace get sick of rule by whores and their families and there is a rebellion, as described in the Chinese poem song of everlasting sorrow (長恨歌) by Bai Juyi. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yang_Guifei

The instability that this all causes does have a certain entertainment value, but it is hardly rational and has been universally superceded. Nowadays Big Brother performs a lot of the functions that monarchy performed in 18th Century France, for example.

So what are Spain and the Unified Queendom, if not monarchies? They are the usual elected oligarchy, but where the oligarchs have granted a contract to a particular family to perform ceremonial duties (receiving ambassadors, visiting disaster victims, etc) in order to free up more time for the oligarchs to govern the country.