01 June 2012
Thoughts on the Diamond Jubilee
I saw a post recently attacking constitutional monarchies (can't find it now, I think it was one of the Ortho types). There is also an article by Sean Gabb, specifically criticising HM Queen Elizabeth
Both articles are correct on the facts. A constitutional monarchy is, for practical purposes, a republic, with all the faults of a republic
Further, the Queen's practical influence over the last sixty years has been, as far as we are able to tell, smaller than it could have been and harmful in its direction.
Does that mean that neoreactionaries should stand against the celebrations of the second Diamond Jubilee in British history? Of course not.
The value of our monarchy is not in the effect the monarch has either on public opinion or on the government —- both are negligible. The value is as a reminder and as an alternative. Some day this war's gonna end. One day, maybe one day soon, though I don't hope for it, democracy will fall apart: due to lack of electricity or money, unresolvable election disputes, exposure of criminal entaglement of all of them, civil war among the progressivists, or some other Black Swan I haven't even thought of. When it does, we will need a ruler with some other basis of legitimacy. And we have one, ready to hand.
If it does happen soon, the new ruling monarch will, like Juan Carlos in 1975, not doubt see himself as a caretaker, overseeing the handover to a reconstituted democratic regime. But it doesn't have to be that way. That is where we come in, between now and then: our role is to make the concept of restored monarchichal rule an alternative.
That's not so very far-fetched. Democracy could go out of fashion. Try just dropping into conversation the suggestion that Her Majesty (or the Prince of Wales or the Duke of Cambridge) could not actually be worse as a ruler than Gordon Brown or David Cameron, and quite a few will accept the point. That doesn't make them Royalists —- they still see the idea as unthinkable, but not as actually bad. The unthinkable can become thinkable very quickly if the right noises are made publicly (I have another article planned about that).
I wrote much the same thing on the occasion of the Duke of Cambridge's wedding. My argument is that the actual merits of members of a constitutional monarchy are not relevant. They, like the rest of us, are products of a liberal democracy. The choice of both the Queen and the Prince of Wales to concentrate their public attention on matters of great unimportance (the Commonwealth and the environment, respectively) is one forced on them by their situation. Could they have done better? Undoubtedly. But you restore monarchy with the Royal Family you have, not the one you might wish to have.
I suppose there is another path, the only one open to republics, to start from scratch: let somebody rule absolutely, and start a dynasty. It could work. It's not at all preferable, though: the first King must actually be a politician, and the politics is likely to stick: the North Korea precedent again. It would be easier for a republic to adopt monarchy if a constitutional monarchy could make a success of it first.
Failing that, probably the best bet for a republic is total collapse, and a recapitulation of the phylogeny of monarchy via anarchy, warlordism and feudalism. Possibly this is what John Robb has in mind when he talks about neofeudalism —- I've not quite been able to understand him. The whole process needn't take longer than a couple of generations, provided technology doesn't regress too far on the way.
Restoration of a constitutional monarchy to an absolute one seems a much smoother process.