No. 3May 5, 2023
The Coronation of Charles III
The Monarchy – A Block to the Progress of Society
Ever since Thomas Hobbes wrote his treatise on state power Leviathan in 1651, the monarchy has been promoted as a guarantee of stability, using the logic that without a person of state to which all look up, a figure of unity and shared values, then the “mob” would follow their unholy desires, a war of all against all. The maintenance of the monarchy is therefore still put forward as the key to the functioning of society. This is precisely what needs to be overturned.
The functioning of society, the political system and institutions, which today in Britain are dysfunctional, requires that the monarchy be abolished. The argument that it provides continuity is not very convincing when what is necessary and what people aspire to is change, change into a society where the people can take control of their lives. How can it be seriously argued that maintaining the monarchy is what gives people control of their lives?
The fiction that the monarchy sets the example in providing service to others is barely able to be maintained, when the hard reality is of class privilege and entitlement. Peoples at home and abroad are hungry for change and are rejecting this fiction and demanding accountability.
Queen Elizabeth II has been promoted as being above the fray, a saint-like though human person, a symbol of everyone being in it together. This was nicely captured by the then Labour Prime Minister Jim Callaghan when he wrote in the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977: “The Throne, as the summit of our institutions, provides a unifying influence for our people, and no nation is better served by the summit of its institutions. But it is not to the Throne as an institution that you will deliver our Address tomorrow, Mr Speaker; it is to Her Majesty the Queen as a person that we ask you to render our thanks.”
And, it was also nicely corroborated by Elizabeth II herself when she said of the Prime Ministers who have kissed her hand: “They unburden themselves or they tell me what’s going on or if they’ve got problems and sometimes one can help in that way too. They know one can be impartial … I think it’s rather nice to feel that one’s a sort of sponge and everybody can come and tell me things. … And occasionally you can be able to put one’s point of view which, perhaps they hadn’t seen it from that angle.”
This fiction that the monarchy is impartial, above classes and that it represents the values everyone holds dear cannot continue. As long as the monarchy continues, society will continue to be blighted. Everything indicates that the role of the monarchy is more than a symbol, where power has simply been transferred to monarch-in-parliament. It is a lynchpin in the arrangements of the state, and has ramifications not just in Britain, but throughout what is now the Commonwealth. But the notion that only a “strong” government or head of state can ensure stability in the face of the natural tendencies of the “mob” which is prone to anarchy and violence, also has implications wider afield, in the sense that peoples are struggling against their disempowerment which the system enforces.
In Britain, the English Civil Wars of the 1640s gave rise to the beheading of the monarch and the abolition of the House of Lords. The period which, from the royal perspective, has been known as the “interregnum” was a period of serious debate centred on how the people can decide how government should function. This can be said to be of its time, or premature, but the crucial implication of that period is it was the onset of a democratic revolution which has still to be consummated.
And at the apex sits the person who represents the supreme power. In the U.K. and the Commonwealth countries, the monarch is the person of state. In other countries it is a president. This arrangement is waiting to be toppled, a necessary requirement for the democratic revolution begun in the 17th century to be completed. … How can the democratic outlook be blighted by such an institution, holding the levers of temporal and spiritual power in its hands. Stability, peace and security cannot be maintained by such an institution which today talks in terms of “hard power” – the military and police forces – and “soft power” as the King calls his powers of “persuasion.” The opposite is the case. The monarchy represents everything that is rotten, obsolete, aggressive and anti-democratic in the society of today.
There cannot be a “common purpose” uniting everyone that it is promoted King Charles will represent as long as society is dominated by narrow vested interests. Whether promoted as the present catchphrase of “levelling up” or the assertion that “we are all in this together,” it is clearly not the case when working people are struggling with the effects of the cost-of-living crisis, class privilege, and attacks on their rights. Charles himself is living proof that there can be no common purpose when his sovereignty rests in possessing obscene wealth. This is not what working people aspire for either. “Levelling up” is a cruel joke while the accumulation of wealth and power in fewer and fewer hands continues apace.
In this whole context, the challenge which confronts the people as a whole is how to end their disempowerment and put themselves in a position of being in control of all affairs which are affecting their lives. It stands to reason that as long as the fictitious person of state in the shape of the monarchy is at the apex of all the political and constitutional arrangements, this challenge faces a serious block. The status quo is not an option.
It is necessary for the progress of society to remove the block to the people’s empowerment that the monarchy represents.
1. P. Hennessy, “The Hidden Wiring: Unearthing the British Constitution,” (London: Victor Gollancz, 1995).
(May 5, 2023)
Letters to the Editor
The people speak in their own voice, not in the voice of homage to the monarchy
The idea of the homage of the people offends even supporters of the monarchy. The very thought that the rulers would even think that they would unite the people and the factions within the ruling class itself on the basis of pledges of personal loyalty and subservience to one of the world’s foremost symbols of power and privilege, shows how out of touch they are and that they have become superfluous in a modern society.
The people of Britain are suffering from the economic and social consequences of class rule, made worse by the vicious anti-social offensive launched to preserve what are called “our democratic institutions.” National strikes are a daily occurrence within one sector of the economy and life after the other. They represent the voice of the people. The expressions of opposition in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and the “realms and territories” to the medieval, opulent, obscene coronation express the voice of the people.
The fact that the rulers shamelessly parade and kneel before such backward specimens of humanity is an unholy pursuit. Not just historically but also today, their so-called duty and charities are dripping with the blood the people of Ireland and of all of the British empire – in honour of which they continue to dish out badges of merit and awards such as the OBE, the Order of the British Empire of various ranks. Shame on the Governor General of Canada for not representing the voice of her own people, who have suffered genocide and every ignominy and continue to do so at the hands of the Crown and everything it represents in Canada as well as abroad.
Lessons of history
The “invitation” to all and sundry to engage in an archaic ritual of pledging allegiance to “His Majesty” along with his heirs and successors shows they apparently learned nothing from the Caribbean fiasco of last year. What was supposed to be a charm offensive of modern royalty ended up being mocked all over the Caribbean and the world.
In England, events have been cancelled in response to the broad opposition to the coronation and what it and the monarchy stand for. Throughout the former colonies, the call to abolish the monarchy and empower the people is ringing out. No amount of attempts to portray the King and the monarchy as something that people support will quell the opposition.
The “modernization” of the royals
Endeavours to “modernize” the monarchy aren’t just unsuccessful, they show a concept of modernization which is merely show on one hand and nothing to do with what the world requires on the other. How do you modernize medievalism? The rulers are only digging a deeper hole for themselves.
Warped conception of what is “new and exciting”
The efforts by the forces of the Old to claim that they have something New to offer are beyond disconnected with reality. Now, they say, everyone can pay homage to the King, and declare themselves to be the subjects of “his royal highness” – thus, acknowledging their “lowness” – and even that Charles “will live forever!” And this is “new and exciting.”
Relevancy of the monarchy
The people are declaring loud and clear where they stand. Here in Canada, while Canadians don’t want a monarchy, the attempt seems to be to present that “people don’t really care,” “it’s too much bother and no big deal,” “it’s not relevant,” “they have other more important matters on their minds,” etc.
In fact, people are both expressing their disgust and their “No” to the coronation. The nations subjugated by the British “Crown” are leaving no doubt where they stand. Bringing out that there is nothing symbolic about the vast sums spent on these parasites at a time when the people are facing huge problems, nor about the ceremony which upholds relations of ruler and ruled with the ruler above the people, is important. Articulating what precisely the constitutional order they represent stands for is important. It is information and discussion amongst the people which opens the path to progress. It will give rise to the alternative.
Terrific photos, graphics and video
The photos, graphics and video are terrific. They show where the people stand in a very lively way. Love the football fans. It has become a discussion about what is being consented to, what people are being asked to give up when they “swear allegiance” to the King. For example, “In a democracy it is the head of state who should swear allegiance to us,” that they pledge to swear allegiance to “the living earth and its people,” “We serve not King but Ireland,” “Allegiance to the people of Quebec” and so on. It shows that the people in all kinds of ways are speaking for themselves, in their own names, no longer willing to cohabit with the fraud that the King represents us, or that all those who swear allegiance to him represent us. Not My King! Abolish the Monarchy!
The fiction that the monarchy is a unifying factor
The more the argument is presented that the king is a unifying factor, representing shared values, alongside impoverishment of the people who are blocked from eliminating the injustices and excesses of the rich and their representatives and building a new society fit for human beings, the more the fraud is exposed. Far from being a symbol of unity, because of the peoples’ struggles, the Crown is seen as a symbol of everything reactionary, from slavery and wars of conquest to present-day crimes. The continuity the monarchy is said to represent is one of subjugation of the many so the few can enrich themselves, who are never to be held to account and who can continue to commit crimes with impunity.
Trudeau’s fear of discussion
When Trudeau says that there are more important things on the minds of Canadians than getting rid of the monarchy what he is saying is that the rich do not know what to do about the dysfunctional liberal democratic institutions and they are terrified of opening the discussion on what kind of society and arrangements are needed to empower the people. The ruling elite did not like what happened during the lead up to the Charlottetown Referendum when discussion was taking place all over the country. People took the responsibility to vote in that referendum very seriously, demanding information and discussing with their peers. The Party’s leadership was instrumental in raising the level of discussion of constitutional matters and it continues to lead the discussion on the need for the renewal of the democratic political process and a modern constitution. There is an alternative and that is for the people to take all the measures necessary which empower themselves.
Opening the door to discussion on how to achieve the people’s empowerment
When people in the opinion polls say that regardless of the difficulty they would favour taking the steps necessary to remove the monarchy and all the colonial vestiges, they are once again opening the door to the discussion of what kind of arrangements favour the people and the structures imposed by a constitutional monarchy are at the top of the list to remove not only the symbols of colonialism, racism, subjugation of nations and peoples but also their practice in the present that have to go.