Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Queen? Who Cares?

Let the fanfare begin, Queen Elizabeth the second (the first of Scotland) becomes Britain's longest-reigning monarch.

Since the accession to the throne of Queen Elizabeth scarcely a newspaper has been published without some mention of the Queen, her husband, her children and the rest of the Royal Family. Journalists have tripped over each other in their efforts to boost circulation by publishing highly-coloured stories of Royal doings. The articles are written in such obsequiously nauseating terms that one can only turn from them in disgust. No effort is spared to convince everybody that the Queen is the repository of every human virtue. It would appear that the Queen has no faults whatsoever. The media is unanimous that she is a shining example, a woman of wondrous achievements and a joyful and vivacious person who lives life to the full. The people who have met her all agree that, yes, she has an amazing knack for putting people at their ease.  The blog is not disposed to dispute that assertion as we are not personally acquainted with Her Majesty to pass any judgment. But with this constant publicity, is it too much to ask that it should come to an end? Let the media be assured that their message has reached us all and we hereby declare that we believe every word they tell us about the Royal Family, that we accept every tale of the indomitable courage with which Her Majesty faces her duties, and that we believe that under the inspiration of the Queen this country will become Glorious again. Having issued that declaration, we hope that the inane drivel will cease and that journalists will now devote themselves to other and more serious matters.

The unspoken fact behind all the accolades was that she is Royal, and by sheer dint of her royalness, everything she does is special. Of course, this sort of veneration does not only apply to royalty. It is not the monarch that is at fault in all this, but the social system which needs a shining symbol; where there is no monarch, something else has to be held up to dazzle the dispossessed. Pop stars, movie actors and sports stars receive similar veneration from an adoring public, and perform the same function of reflecting meaning and glory upon the fans that meet and read about them. But does monarchy serve any interest for ordinary people, beyond giving a holiday and a pageant now and then? It may be said that if it does them no good, it does them no harm either. If it were true that to fill people’s heads with nonsense did no harm, that might be so; and most of it is nonsense. There is no reason for thinking that the Queen and her husband are not pleasant, decent people. If things were otherwise, however, the truth is that they would still be presented as paragons. Some monarchs have been cruel, irresponsible and contemptibly low, but their subjects have still been asked for reverence. The present Royal Family comes as close as any capitalist politician could desire to the modern monarchical ideal. Despite Charles occasional missive to ministers, little interference in politics, but a worthy interest in science; admirably suited to gather prestige abroad; most of all, a continual and absorbing attraction to the working class. Monarchs exist because other people treat them as monarchs not because there is something intrinsic or magical about the royal person which makes them a monarch. It is the willingness of people to kneel before them. In contemporary Britain capitalism can present itself as being able to maintain a community of values. Something other than mere profit-seeking matters. Royalty underpins a whole system of social stratification and value.

The contribution made to society by the Queen and her greedy clan is practically zero. Each one is capable of happily consuming in one day more resources and commodities than any 100 members of the working class, perhaps 1000 times as much as the inhabitants of a small African village. Yet we are meant to kowtow and to prostrate ourselves like imbeciles in front of them. It is time we, the working class, celebrated something of far more importance—ourselves and the latent strength we have and can utilise to help bring about a world in which we can all enjoy the nice things that civilisation ought to bring. It seems we have been led for so long by idiots, convinced we should look up to our 'betters' and to celebrate their shenanigans, brainwashed into thinking the same by the media, that we have forgotten our own collective strength.

But as we said on Betty’s coronation:
 “We have no personal quarrel with the Queen. As occupant of the Throne of Great Britain she has no power. The monarchy has become a mere facade of authority, a rubber stamp signature at the bottom of State documents. The Queen's whole life is regulated by strictly-defined rules and a standard of behaviour is expected which would make even the humblest of us protest… It is of no consequence who sits on the throne, which flag or Royal Standard flies over Buckingham Palace; or whether her titles are Elizabeth II or I. We are not concerned with all the flummery and mediaeval mumbo-jumbo with which the event is to be celebrated. Nothing will have changed. The private ownership of the means of life will continue with all its consequences. The threat of war, the general insecurity will not be abated one jot or tittle by this glorified circus. Not one of the claims made for this event will be fulfilled as far as the workers are concerned. The promises and allurements of a brilliant future will be forgotten almost as soon as the procession has disappeared from sight.”

Members of the Socialist Party are unconcern as to whether we live in a republic or a constitutional monarchy – capitalism is capitalism whatever its political label.
"People think they have taken quite an extraordinary bold step forward when they have rid themselves of belief in hereditary monarchy and swear by the democratic republic. In reality, however, the state is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another, and indeed in the democratic republic no less than in the monarchy." - Friedrich Engels (1891 Preface to Marx's "The Civil War in France")

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