I came across this socialist rant against the monarchy and the idea of monarchy, which stimulated the creative juices. I thought it was worth responding to. First the case against monarchy, from the World Socialist Website, which I am sure you will enjoy for its over-the-top-ness..
“The capitalist class buried the ghosts of its republican ancestors long ago. Confronting social and political crises of unprecedented magnitude, they turn to autocracy and authoritarianism as bulwarks in defense of their privileges and recognize in monarchy an institutional form of their class aspirations.
Monarchy is an institution of colossal stupidity, a barbarous vestige of the feudal past; its persistence is an embarrassment to humanity. Founded on heredity, shored up with inbreeding, intermarriage and claims of divine right, the monarchic principle enshrines inequality as the fundamental and unalterable lot of humanity and maintains this lot with the force of autocratic power.
The kings and queens enthroned by this principle are stunted by more than just hemophilia and the Habsburg jaw. Their social function distills in their lineage the most concentrated reaction. Elizabeth II was cousin to the Tsarist Romanovs; her Nazi-sympathizing uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 and headed off to Germany with his Nazi-sympathizing wife to salute Adolf Hitler.
The royal family is marked by the sorts of scandals that develop among those with a great deal of unearned money and unspent time. Her son, Prince Andrew, sold arms to autocratic regimes and paid £12 million to cover up his role in sex trafficking underaged girls with Jeffrey Epstein. Her grandson, Prince Harry, used to dress up in full Nazi regalia.
It was in defiance of the monarchic principle that the American Declaration of Independence stated, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This conception fueled the American Revolution. Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, Common Sense, which historian Gordon Wood termed “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era,” directly attacked not just George III but the very existence of monarchy, writing:
In England a king hath little more to do than to make war and give away places; which in plain terms, is to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears. A pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand sterling a year for, and worshiped into the bargain! Of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.
Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the US Constitution codified this principle for the new nation: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States.”
Immense concentrated private wealth, founded on exploitation and inequality, and the unending expansion of empire have stamped out any trace of such democratic sentiments in the American ruling elite. They no longer, in the phrase of Milton, prefer “hard liberty before the easy yoke of servile pomp.” They seek to defend their interests through autocratic rule and look with welcome upon the principle of monarchy.
On the order of President Biden, US flags were deferentially lowered for the dead queen, placed at half-staff for 12 days. Elizabeth II is separated from George III by generations; Biden is separated from Jefferson by an unbridgeable historical chasm.
Over the past six years we have witnessed a turn among the ruling elite around the globe to openly autocratic and dictatorial forms of rule as social and political crisis have sharpened and turned deadly. It is this that fuels the unrestrained adulation in the American media for the dead queen and the crown she wore. An unprecedented political crisis grips the United States. The idea of a monarchical system, of an autocratic head of state who stands above the conflict, has a powerful appeal to the embattled bourgeoisie.
The media give voice to these longings and package them for popular consumption. The phrase of J.A. Hobson, writing of imperialism at the opening of the 20th century, is apt: “snobbish subservience, the admiration of wealth and rank, the corrupt survivals of the inequalities of feudalism.” The deferential and servile talking heads of television news cultivate these traits. Often dressed up as progressive by identity politics, the monarchic principle is everywhere glorified, from Wakanda to Beyoncé to Downton Abbey.
The relentless adulation for the dead queen is mind-numbing. It is tempting to hunker down and weather the storm of stupidity. It must, however, be taken seriously, for it is a warning.”
To which I responded as follows:
I always love these rants against constitutional monarchies. The same way I enjoy Richard Dawkins railing against God with his materialist conception of reality. Both conflate a shallow form of instrumental reasoning with great depth of insight. Both misunderstand critically what makes people tick. Both are suffused with an obvious condescension to the large proportion of humanity that believes in the institution of constitutional monarchy and believes in God. Both think that an atheistic republic of means and ends would be better (by what criteria I ask?) for humans. Both fail to understand that God and kings are adaptive, in a Darwinian sense, in that they promote group cohesion and cooperation.
When we say ‘God save our gracious King’, we ask one imaginary friend, power and ruler of the universe to help another imagined ruler fulfil his much less important earthly-scale job. Otherwise we have to swear allegiance to an abstraction like the Constitution and the flag. You do not escape imaginary political and emotional constructs by de-feudalizing them.
Quote: “the monarchic principle enshrines inequality as the fundamental and unalterable lot of humanity -yes it does, and suck it up, because it is the truth of the human condition – and maintains this lot with the force of autocratic power.” No, but by the force of allegiance to something greater than ourselves and the persons who embody that greatness. The Crown is all of us. We participate ina greatness which is not ours. We have elected politicians for the actual exercise of power, but they are in a real way restrained by having to be polite and subordinate to the monarch.
None of which prevents me from thinking Charles III is an eco-babbler, and saying so.
In short, my God is greater than your god, and much more powerful than your rational association of self interested actors seeking maximum personal autonomy, or whatever it is that socialists do in their miserable little lives.
Someone should read Peter Turchin’s War and Peace and War, on the subject of asabiya, the power of societies to cooperate for collective purposes. The term is taken from the Arabic philosopher of history, Ibn Khaldun. Then we might have a meaningful exchange about monarchies that dealt with what they actually do, rather than what socialists think they do.
A better anti-monarchical argument is presented by the barbarian Ygritte presenting the casefor equality in this excerpt from Game of Thrones: “You know nothing, John Snow”.