|I'M FOR WORLD SOCIALISM|
Now that the Queen has died, what now of this archaic institution?
The Socialist Party is unconcerned as to whether we live in a republic or a constitutional monarchy – capitalism is capitalism whatever its political label. Socialists desire a good deal more than a mere capitalist republic.
The Royal Family in relation to the rest of society are members of the capitalist class. That is, they own so much wealth, in the form of vast landed estates, that it is economically unnecessary for them to work. This means, for example, that they can enjoy themselves at Ascot racecourse, the grouse moor or other similar places as often as they please.
As regards the Queen, we can agree with the constitutional description of her role that in law, she is the head of the executive, an integral part of the legislature. In practice, as a result of a long evolutionary process during which the absolute power of the monarchy has been progressively reduced, the Queen acts only on the advice of her ministers, which she cannot constitutionally ignore. She reigns but she does not rule. The United Kingdom is governed by Her Majesty’s Government in the name of the Queen. The Queen was merely a rubber stamp and in this respect, the Royals are an example of the redundant nature of the capitalist class in general.
It has been claimed that she performed a useful function on the grounds that the Queen created more goodwill around the world than a mere presidential head of state could. Elizabeth was worth her weight in gold as an ambassador for Britain. But what did all these foreign tours and visits really achieve? The warm welcomes offered to Her Brittanic Majesty were often quickly forgotten by political realities, as numerous conflicts within and outwith the Commonwealth have shown.
Even if it is conceded that the accompanying trade missions produced a certain measure of success, in that foreign firms were more inclined to Buy British—what relevance does this have for those of us whose lives are taken up in earning enough to go on living? It simply meant that the wealth which we produce, but what our employers own, was more easily disposed of on the world’s markets — without this necessarily benefiting us. Thus if the Queen can be said to have had any function at all, it is that of being public relations for the British capitalist class. She was richly rewarded for her services through generous payments from the Civil List.
The problem with the whole concept of royalty is that it signifies the difference between those who are born into the blue-blooded ranks of the privileged and we commoners and humble subjects. Those who think that they are low can be more easily treated as low.
The Chartist Ernest Jones expressed it well
“We're low—we’re low—we’re very, very low.
As low as low can be;
The rich are high—for we make them so—
And a miserable lot are we!”