You know what’s going on in Britain this year. The whole world does, and how could you not after so obsessively pathological a campaign by the British media to announce this ground-breaking moment in human history: an old woman is being celebrated at the cost of millions of taxpayer’s pounds for having been alive for the last 60 years. This might be repeated with more colourful, pretentious description, with the words ‘royal’, ‘Queen’, ‘Diamond’ and ‘Jubilee’ given the kind of product placement that makes James Bond seem terribly subtle, but it does not alter the significantly sterile reality.
Now, contrary to what non-British readers might think, this is not some kind of This Is Your Life-style celebration of a productive and properous life. This is not a weekend-long festival of Elizabeth Windsor’s greatest hits. What you in countries outside of Britain say and think about the monarchy has more analysis, depth and discussion than anything here in the metropole. Because the fact of the matter is, Elizabeth Windsor has not done or said a single memorable thing in the nearly two-thirds of a century she has been our Head of State. No one interviewed on television about the celebrations, from the most destitute working class people in the barren North to the most prestigious and sycophantic academic, has any idea what they are celebrating. Everyone uses the same phrases to describe her: ‘Done a lot of good/work for the country’, ‘provided stability’, ‘done a lot for the royal family’s image’…..and that’s about it, in both variety and depth of praise. Should anyone be pressed to explain what exactly they mean by ‘work’, an answer will be returned that describes her as less of an extremely rich constitutional ruler over 15 countries and 135 million people and more of a particularly highly-regarded village pensioner.
Elizabeth Windsor is talked about in grandmotherly terms, as someone who is kind and energetic but otherwise silent and rather free of personality. The problem is that while these perceptions are not untrue, for the woman herself is not corrupt or reactionary, but that we should have such an unremarkable and boring person and her large and extended family occupying a political position that is far too important to be given to people with such little political ability and input.
Imagine if the President of the United States was never put to a vote, that party primaries, nominations and campaigns never existed, that no one knew anything about Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama beyond a few trips abroad they made. Imagine if the American Presidency was based on inheritence, that George Washington’s descendents were still in office, and that no one ever questioned this or demanded they have a say in why this situation existed. Imagine if the President never said anything or did anything that Presidents do, like warn of the dangers of modern capitalism, choose to go to the moon, publicly deny committing a crime or infidelity, or saying that gay people are human beings like everyone else. You can’t imagine it can you, a country’s history devoid of intelligent, flawed, sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes very bad, but always active and important and necessary leadership.
America is not alone as a nation always in political, economic and social flux, with the government a hot topic eagerly dissected, criticised and discussed by the people, even if many of them are misinformed and don’t bother to vote anyway. Many countries also trust their citizens to play a part in politics. But debates about the corporate nature of capitalist governments, for once, do not factor in here. What I am saying is that the British ruling political class claims to be a democracy, indeed, the ‘mother of democracies’, yet anyone who so much as looks at the surface of the government structure will see that this is a lie on a grand scale.
More than half of our 1438 direct government ministers are appointed solely by the government itself (the House of Lords). To liken North Korea’s hereditary leadership to a feudal system is sickening hypocrisy, when ours is exactly the same and repeated a further 788 times in one chamber of government. Windsor herself has outlasted every modern dictator, from Kim Jong-Il to Francisco Franco, beginning her reign when Truman was in office and Britain still remained as Africa’s primary water-boarder. Members of the one, small area of government we are allowed to decide on, the House of Commons, are all representatives of local constiuencies, including David Cameron who has become one of the most powerful politicians in the world despite winning government membership from an electorate of just 78,220 people; there are no county or regional representatives, no equivalent to State Senators, just local MPs who obviously do not focus on the issues of a couple of rural villages if they have to spend most of their time flying around the world meeting people. Can you picture your State’s Representatives solely responsible for your country’s foreign policy, and doing both jobs at the same time? Coupled with the fact that there is no formally written (or approved by referenda) British constitution and that none of our members of government, whether elected or appointed, have fixed terms of office, the ability to be removed/impeached or charged with criminal offences relating to their government tenure and you would think I’m describing an authoritarian Third World banana republic, not the 7th richest country in the world.
So you see, look beyond the jingoistic, manufactured ceremony and consent, the garish and tacky pageantry, the general bewilderment of the public as to what is actually going on and their frustration that we have to have a four-day weekend for this bloated waste of public money to go through the motions, and you’ll see that every question about the monarchy produces an instant shiver of doubt about the whole sorry edifice. You don’t have to follow the excellently argued demolition of monarchism by Republic, the only organisation in British history to mount an official campaign to our feudal system, to allow simple logic to tell you that this is so wrong and contrary to the values of democracy and political rights that we, as the West, constantly tell the world that we are the experts on and that our systems are the envy of the world for their openness and public engagement.
America’s government may be deeply infiltrated and corrupted by big business, but Britain’s system does not even have the coherent artifice of accountable and electable government. When you watch or read about the celebrations in the coming days, remind yourself that Britain is still being ruled as it was in the Dark Ages: by a hereditary and autocratic group of arrogant self-appointees who think, despite the majority of politicians throughout British history and up to the present day proving themselves to have absolutely no political acumen and intelligence whatsoever, that they and they alone know what’s best for the people. We are a supremely gullible and simplistic population, believing anything that brings colour into lives ravaged by our enormously wealthy ruling class, and these celebrations are a tribute to the power of capitalism to dupe the overwhelming majority of 60 million people, and countless millions in the overseas provinces (such as Canada, Australia etc), into virtually throwing away their political freedom to a harmless, useless old lady who at least has the courtesy to wave back to the extraordinary number of people she’s suckered into keeping her around. The monarchy is not a symbol or tradition of the greatness of this country, but of the stupidity, ignorance and exploitation the people of this country have learned to internalise and replace their self-esteem with.
Fuck the jubilee.