We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“The great irony of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations is that the most overt snobbery emanated, not from the House of Windsor or its posh cheerleaders in political and media circles, but from so-called republicans. It was them, these embarrassments to Tom Paine, who looked with horror and derision upon the great hordes of modern Britain. They pronounced themselves “aghast” at all the little people “happily buying Union Jack cups and bunting”. They mocked the masses for obediently heeding the “message from on high” telling them “not to worry about increasing inequality and its accompanying social problems, but to clap your hands, smile and applaud”, like good little children.”

Brendan O’Neill.

He’s hit the nail on the head. I think – as a libertarian and minarchist, that we if we are going to have a state at all, then I see little that is objectionable from a freedom point of view in having a constitutional monarchy instead of an elected president, although I suppose the glitz factor would be reduced. Republicans who are serious should ask this question: would a single piece of Nanny State legislation, the Database State, our membership of the EU, our massive taxes and regulatory burdens, be improved in any way if we said goodbye to the monarchy? Really?

55 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • David Gillies

    I’ve long said that the greatest argument against republicanism is republicans. A moment’s thought suffices: who would the Queen’s replacement be? Let’s say we go the common route and have a President as head of state, separate from the PM. Which ghastly ‘elder statesman’ would be foisted on us? Paddy Ashdown? Margaret Becket? Gasp – Chris Patten? Be careful what you wish for, Jacobins. You’ll wind up with Fat Pang as a figurehead. You can imagine the hordes of tourists flocking to see the Changing of the Guard at Patten Mansions.

  • Are you sure you guys aren’t headed in the wrong direction?

  • Russ

    Two thoughts:

    1) Since when have Republicans (of any stripe) ever favored the masses? Bit of dog-bites-man, there.

    2) Liberty is a goal.
    Democracy, Republicanism, etcetera, are means to that goal. If a constitutional monarchy can deliver liberty more reliably than Republicanism why not?

    I personally prefer something far more AnCappish, but that only works if the average individual possesses meaningful Right of (and econmic ability to!) Exit — something States have been consciously trying to strangle for over a century now with various passport and visa restrictions.

  • M. Thompson

    The one great virtue I see in a constitutional monarchy is the separation of the dignified portion of government, from the grubby politicians. Grand openings, ship christening, and moments of rejoicing and sorrow are removed from people who only think to the next election.

    Also, her having seen so much gives a great deal of behind the scenes weight to the politicians. You can only hope her successors have half as much sense as her.

  • Laird

    “[W]ould a single piece of Nanny State legislation, the Database State, our membership of the EU, our massive taxes and regulatory burdens, be improved in any way if we said goodbye to the monarchy?”

    I’m not sure about that, but if you had a functioning monarchy would any of that have happened in the first place? I know that you guys are fond of your queen, but really, what’s the point if she won’t occasionally call a halt to some of the worst excesses of the grubby politicians, or even dissolve Parliament now and then? I’m not a great fan of the term “rent-seeker”, but surely it is no more appropriately applied than to your monarchy.

  • I’m with Laird. If she’s not going to do anything then there’s not much point in having her at all. At least with an.elected president they’d occasionally cause a deadlock when they turned out to be a different party than the legislature.
    Not that I’m in favour of that either, mind you.

  • Citizen Stuart

    Why should a group of people be condemned to a life of little privacy, constantly surrounded by armed guards and shadowed by the media, having to watch every word they say in public, and even have who they can marry subject to national debates – just because they have the bad luck to be born into the Windsor family?
    I’m a libertarian, I want people to be free. Let’s have a republic and set the Windsors free.

  • lukas

    Stuart, all of the Windsors are <free to go if their station does not please them.

  • stephen Willmer

    I agree with Laird, and with Sean Gabb: when Brenda signed into force the European Communities Act 1972 she betrayed her Coronation Oath.

  • Myno

    It is the lack of a constitution protecting individuals from government that is lacking… now on both sides of the pond. And the waning of a culture that appreciates true freedom. Not the details of how power is distributed from above.

  • RAB

    Stephen, Laird and others, Her Majesty has theoretical powers, limited though they are. They have never been used, because to do so would inevitably be the finish of the British Monarchy and a thousand years of historical continuity that Britain has enjoyed.

    The venal and self righteous politicians who lied to get us to vote to stay in the EU, would have fired up a shitstorm of Republicanism… How dare this unelected, privileged etc etc, thwart the will of the people! Off with her head! and so it would have been.

    Brenda has not just had to tread on eggshells but tip toe through a minefield these last 60 years. Hers has always been a higher purpose than just opportunist politics, she has dedicated herself to being all of the people’s symbol and figurehead of Britain in a way that greedy selfish and self regarding politicians cannot and never will. President Blair, Brown or Cameron anyone?

    Frankly I think she has played a blinder throughout her reign. God help the Monarchy when Chuckles Buggerlugs the Third takes over. He is a green inker and intereres with every department of state already. He certainly won’t stop when he becomes King, and that will be the end of him and yes, a thousand years of our history.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Firstly, as an Australian, i like the Queen, and the institution of monarchy, as we currently have it. If a Monarch exercised real powers, then my views would change- the ‘communist’ monarchy of North Korea is something to be abhorred.
    I suppose i like it because it shows the sensible British attitude to change- take things slowly, and only make small incremental steps. The French Revolution is a counter-example of fast change, the sort to be avoided.
    I have sometimes thought that if Australia wanted a change, then we could create a new position of Regent, to be filled at each Federal election. The name Regent means we could leave the constitution minimally changed with Sovereign and Crown references, and the Regent could be an ombudsman, unable to affect policy, but able to randomly investigate the finances of any and all elected officials. The High Court could adjudicate on what the Reserve powers are, and how they could be used.
    Perhaps a British President could be something similar- an elected ombudsman?

  • Midwesterner

    RAB, I wonder if the Crown couldn’t use the royal perogative to order a direct polling of the people of questions like transferring British sovereignty to the EU (and in doing so, bypassing/overruling Parliament). It seems like doing that, rather than weakening, would strengthen popular support for the monarchy. Or not?

  • RAB

    It seems like doing that, rather than weakening, would strengthen popular support for the monarchy. Or not?

    The short answer is Not Mid. See it is not certain that an out vote from the EU would be won even now with 80% of the population calling for a referendum.

    Why? well because all three major parties would campaign for us to stay in, along with most of the media, the most vociferous being the Guardibeebanistas. With such relentless pressure, misinformation and downright lies, we may very well vote to stay in and try to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. This is exactly what happened in 1975. I voted no then and will again. But how many others will when the frighteners get put on them?

    So our good queen Bess does not and has not done politics like that, a quiet word of displeasure is the best she can achieve and even that is usually ignored by our navel gazing self satisfied superannuated prats we call politicians.

    To fail to give crown assent to a bill or treaty would spell the Monarchies end. Power now lies totally in Parliament, except it doesn’t, it has been given away to the gangsters in Brussels, and until that collapses (soon soon!) there is nothing we can really do about it.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    RAB, whilst it seems like harmless fun for Europe to break up, wouldn’t that result in a Depression?
    And would Europe break up? Some newspaper reports have Merkel urging that the Eurozone countries should unite on fiscal policies. This might mean the creation of a two-layered Europe. Perhaps Britain, because it has kept the pound, and the City of London is the financial center of Europe, would be the natural leader of the non-United Europe, an Allied Nations of Europe, perhaps?

  • Laird

    “To fail to give crown assent to a bill or treaty would spell the Monarchies end.”

    So she has theoretical power but if she ever actually tried to use it it would be stripped away? How exactly does that differ from having no power whatsoever? And if that’s truly the case the whole reason for having a monarchy is already gone; what’s the point in holding on to a meaningless figurehead?

    And anyway, why do you make that assertion? If the people love her so much, surely even a maddened political class couldn’t dethrone (is that the right word?) her merely because she overruled one of their foolish decisions. If push truly came to shove, would the people of Great Britain more gladly accept the Queen’s dissolution of Parliament or its dissolution of the monarchy?

  • MutiMonkee

    I’m a republican but dude, Prince Harry, Djs Reggae, does coke and shoots islamofascists for a living. Can’t we have him instead of his pinko religious father?

  • I don’t see any problem with the queen dissolving Parliament, ordering her police to arrest the treasonous individuals therein and calling a general election. Two of the three are her ordinary day job in any case.

  • Citizen Stuart

    Lukas, I’m well aware that the Windsors have the option of resigning – but to do so they’d have to have the strenght of character to go against a lifetime ot training, social and family expectations. These poor saps are indoctrinated to believe it’s their duty to do their present jobs.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Laird writes:

    “I know that you guys are fond of your queen, but really, what’s the point if she won’t occasionally call a halt to some of the worst excesses of the grubby politicians, or even dissolve Parliament now and then? I’m not a great fan of the term “rent-seeker”, but surely it is no more appropriately applied than to your monarchy.”

    Up to a point, that is a fair remark. It would have been nice if the Queen had been able to publish objections to certain pieces of legislation – such as the Lisbon Treaty – but the risks to her would have been ,that, having no democratic mandate of her own, she’s be kicked out and we’d just get an elected carbon copy of the actual government. Not much point to that.

    And if we get an elected Pres, voted for by the same people who voted for the Commons, then such a President would arguably be useless, little more than a copy of the Prime Minister, just as the President of Germany has very little real power.

    Of course, the US President has serious power – arguably far too much in fact – but at least the US has a genuine bicameral system of government with the House and Senate, although even this system has been tinkered with down the years. What the real problem is in the UK is the complete gutting of the House of Lords as a serious revising chamber and the intrusion of EU judicial power. That is where the core of the problem lies.

    In any event, I have no doubt that the Queen’s view on controversial legislation is that she can advise against it but vetoing it is dangerous without a clear democratic mandate for it (which is why it might be an idea for such a monarch to be able to call referenda in extreme constitutional cases, maybe).

    I just don’t buy this idea of some people that the Queen has been some sort of “traitor” for not refusing to let Britain join the EU, or whatever. We can leave if we want, and the UK public have, in numerous votes, not taken that step. Attacking the Queen for the failings of the demos is a cop out, and a fairly outrageous one by malcontents who are frustrated that they cannot persuade their fellow countrymen in a vote.

    Her role is largely ceremonial and symbolic, and I see little that is wrong with that, however much one can poke fun at the whole shebang at times. And it is hard to see much “rent-seeking” going on, really.

    The circle of those who receive privileges under the arrangements now in place is small, and heavily constrained. The Queen may nominally be one of the wealthiest women in the land, but her actual freedom of action is very limited, as it should be.

  • Mendicant

    No, its more the case they enjoy spending other people’s money on their lavish lifestyle.

    The Queen, who has never done a day’s work in her life, like any welfare parasite, is quite happy to continue living off other people’s earnings.
    A 4-year old could do the Queen’s job just as well, given it requires no talent or skill, only the ability to talk posh and pretend to be interested in “the little people”.

    Her offspring, and indeed the talentless dilettantish Kate (beauty, yes, but brains, alas; Barbie dolls have more character and spunk), like this arrangement, too.

    Its time we weaned them off their dependency and easy lives.

    Worshipping a German while waving flags made in China, such phoney patriotism is the product of a nation of shallow, celebrity obsessed ninnies.

  • JohnB

    The queen and other royals do have power. Not direct power but the very strong power of influence.

    My problem with Her Majesty is that it seems she has put the interests of the Commonwealth before those of Britain (ultimately to the detriment of both), and as an example of a problematic attitude, it seems she despised Margaret Thatcher.
    Thatcher was the figurehead of a popular movement that dragged Britain back from destruction at the end of the 1970s, and to despise her and her influence causes me disquiet.

    Agents of influence are perhaps the most influential agents. A lot can be achieved by pushing discreetly.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    “Worshipping a German while waving flags made in China, such phoney patriotism is the product of a nation of shallow, celebrity obsessed ninnies.”

    By standards of abuse, that is lame and unoriginal. Many of us Anglo-Saxons are, of course, “Germans” (check the map of Europe and see where Saxony is).

    And thanks to free trade, we can wave flags made from people from around the world. I find that an excellent thing. You appear to be something of a bigot, which is a very non-excellent thing.

  • Stephen Willmer

    I’m often struck by the fact that people who refer to the Windsors as German, wouldn’t dream of referring to a 23 year old man, born in Somalia, and raised here for the last ten years as any less British than am I. I mean, seriously, the Hanoverians came over 300 bloody years ago. Whatever else might said of the Windsors, I reckon we can give them a pass on this one.

    As to whether Brenda’s a traitor, I should have thought that was impossible as a matter of law. Quisling might be a better description.

  • London Libertarian

    I agree with Laird, and with Sean Gabb: when Brenda signed into force the European Communities Act 1972 she betrayed her Coronation Oath.

    Given what people think of that Cromwellian oaf Gabb in this neck of the wood that ends up as a ringing endorsement of the Queen.

  • Stephen Willmer

    London Libertarian, I have done Gabb a disservice: I looked up what I thought he’d said on the subject, and in fact he didn’t. So I’ll stick to agreeing with Laird.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The idea of the Queen or other royals being part of some broader “Quisling” conspiracy to do, er, whatever some here think is terrible always struck me as why conspiracy theories, however diverting, tend not to be credible.

    It is frankly hard to see what would be in it for any of the Royals to go along with a loss of serious sovereignty, other than some sort of short-termist desire for a quiet life. That, alas, applies to the UK population as a whole. Like I said, when various folk slag off the Queen from not saving us from the EU, or whatever, those of us who are actually voters ought to take a hard look in the mirror first.

  • Snorri Godhi

    One issue that I do not see mentioned in the comments is incentives.
    In a hereditary monarchy, the monarch has an incentive to make sure that the monarchy survives. Assuming that the monarch has studied a bit of history (s)he knows that, in a country with a modicum of freedom+democracy, allowing suppression of freedom+democracy is not a good way to retain the throne in the long term.
    Examples: the Hohenzollern, the Habsburg, and the Savoia.
    Positive role models, by contrast, include King Juan Carlos in 1981 and King Bhumibol in 1992.

    Needless to say, elected Heads of State face different incentives.

    This is not meant to be a conclusive argument but I think it should be weighted in the balance.

  • Stephen Willmer

    Jonathan, I suggest no conspiracy. I just think Her Majesty was more concerned for her children’s future than she was with doing her job.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Stephen, I think you are mistaken as she probably would not see a contradiction. I have already explained why this whole “failure to do her job” line is unfounded.

  • RAB

    Well JP has said pretty much what I would have gone on to say. Her role is Ceremonial and symbolic, and in mentioning the Commonwealth let us not forget that she isn’t just Queen of the UK but Queen of dozens of countries that comprised our old Empire. Remove the Queen and you lose not just the UK’s historical continuity but that of many other countries also.

    And let’s have less of the “She’s never done a days work in her life” shtick. During the War she was a driver and mechanic, she can strip down an engine with the best grease monkey.

    Oh and you know all those red boxes that the Prime Minister and the rest of our Ministers of State have to go through, their daily prep or homework if you like, well guess what? The Queen gets one too, and hers contains details of ALL the rest.

    It must be sheer hell being her on many an occasion (like the Pop Concert the other night, when she had to attend with her husband in the hospital). How would any of us like knowing exactly what we will be doing two years hence? No waking up feeling a bit crap and ringing the office to say you won’t be in today for her majesty is there?

  • Laird

    “Oh and you know all those red boxes that the Prime Minister and the rest of our Ministers of State have to go through, their daily prep or homework if you like, well guess what? The Queen gets one too, and hers contains details of ALL the rest.”

    Why? If her role is truly “ceremonial and symbolic” (which seems to be correct), and she never actually does anything with the contents of that red box, what’s the point? Sounds like make-work both for her and whoever puts together the box.

    Please don’t misunderstand me here: I’m not arguing against a constitutional monarchy per se, merely against this particular one as presently constituted. I actually think that a constitutional monarchy, where the monarch has some real power, is probably the best form of government we’re likely to achieve on this planet, essentially for the reasons suggested by Snorri Godhi. Unfortunately, the current British version maintains the trappings of monarchy with none of the substance, and so is a rather pointless waste of money.

  • RAB

    Ok this is going to sound a bit weird Laird, but as I understand it (I picked this up from the Helen Mirren film The Queen they showed on tv the other night, so it may be fiction) The Queen’s current role is to advise her Government. She has, after all, been through 12 Prime Ministers and knows a teensy bit about Government by now, and how to avoid complete cock ups. The Government is free to ignore her advice of course, and invariably do, I’m sure.

    The weird bit is that this is the complete reversal of what happened in days of yore, when Parliament existed to advise the Monarch.

    As I have just said on Counting Cats, what do we gain by abolishing the Monarchy? Bugger all that I can see. Yes she is a ceremonial figurehead, but then many elected Presidents are too, without any real power (the Irish one springs to mind). She is a great goodwill ambassador for this country, and brings in a lot of money for Britain. And frankly the Monarchy is cheap as chips to run, compared to all the billions our Govt happily wastes in other directions. We have been damn lucky to have her these last 60 years.

    Chuckles Buggerlugs III will be a whole different ball-game however.

  • Laird

    On reflection, RAB, I can’t believe that I have actually been engaged in a discussion about the merits of the British Monarchy, when I don’t have a dog in this fight. Plus, not having grown up or even lived there, I don’t share your sensibilities of the relationship between the Queen and Parliament, or with the nation for that matter. It’s your country (or commonwealth, or whatever) and your Queen, so if you’re happy with the arrangement that’s great. I think I should just withdraw from the discussion.

  • The best hope of libertarianism is not constitutional monarchy, but absolute monarchy. The growth of the state is entirely the product of politicians fighting each other for power. A selfish, secure monarchy would do less damage, even if they did live richly at our expense.

    If you fancy, there is video of me making the point at more length: Reactionary Libertarianism

  • @RAB:

    I was wondering where I picked up the phrase “Chuckles Buggerlugs the Third” – god damn you man, can’t you keep these meme’s to yourself.

    I can’t get it out of my bloody head now!

    I’ve used it about a dozen times today over at Counting Cats!

  • Jason

    If there must be a head of state, which would better carry out their duties with fitting dignity – the present incumbent, or some superannuated, mendacious expense-thief?

    Not sure we need all the hangers-on though – a civil list of two might better suit times of austerity if we really are all in it together.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Anomaly UK: I have come across the “libertarian” case for absolute monarchy being better than a democracy. The idea has been advocated by the likes of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, who among other things is also a fierce opponent of immigration (despite his being an immigrant himself, LOL).

    The trouble with the idea is that it is based on a false understanding of the time-preference idea (the idea that monarchs have a longer term mentality than the unwashed masses and therefore that democracy leads to bad things). To say the least, this is dubious, since it might as well be used to justify slavery, for instance.

    Here(Link) is a good article debunking the whole “reactionary libertarian” point of view.

    Also look at this article by Roderick Long, who is also unconvinced.(Link)

    Constitutional, constrained government, be it in the form of Prince Chuck, a president, or a pet dog, is what we want. Absolute monarchy as libertarian? FFS.

  • llamas

    Strange to relate, this very scenario – the Queen taking control from the politicians after a worldwide financial meltdown (plus war) – was foreseen in the most exact and specific detail in a work of fiction published some 50 years ago. The very same Queen, now celebrating her Diamond Jubilee.

    Large drink for the first correct identification. Them as knows me of old (or who have fine literary taste) will have no trouble.

    In that scenario, HM devolved her powers onto a Governor-General, one who was not afraid to knock the politicians around a bit. Cannily relying on her popularity with the voters, her move forced a no-confidence vote, in turn forcing an election in which the real issues would play front-and-centre.

    At her age, not so very likely now, perhaps.

    The story that HM ‘despised’ Margaret Thatcher has been, I think, fairly-well debunked. She may not have liked her so very much, but I think there’s no question that HM had great respect for MT’s political skills and her willingness to do the hard thing for the betterment of the UK.

    Charles in an indulged idiot who has no idea how to carry on his mother’s tradition. I truly think that she intends to hang on as long as possible precisely to limit his potential time in the job. He doesn’t realize and won’t learn that his most important job is to keep his mouth shut. Too much like his father, which is acceptable in a consort but not in a monarch.



  • Too much like his father, which is acceptable in a consort but not in a monarch.

    If Chuckles Buggerlugs the Third was like his father I don’t think most of the UK populace would mind too much having a certain amount of tolerance for the cantankerous old bastard.

    The problem (as has been mentioned at length in another place) is that Chuckles has been brainwashed by the erratic nonsense of his idiot uncle Louis Mountbatten. The fact that he was martyred by the IRA back in 1979 means that those idiocies will probably never wash out of the heir to the thrown and as a consequence have to suffer either a poor reign cut short by ignominy and abdication or alternately the dissolution of the monarchy.

    As a mild-republican this is a win-win scenario, but from the perspective of a subject of the crown, it’s all lose-lose.

    Can’t someone just run this fucker over with a bus, then we can at least have an intelligent debate on shades-of-grey rather than black-and-white.

    It says on the side of Oliver Cromwell’s tomb, “Christ, not man, is King”.

    Maybe our real mistake was the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II? At least under that alternate reality we would only have ourselves to blame rather than Brenda and her antecedents?

  • For my sins I think “Chuckles Buggerlugs III” ws a joint coinage between me and RAB over at Counting Cats. He came up with the “Buggerlugs” and me with the “Chuckles” (generally in the form of “Cheerful Charlie Chuckles”) because he’s a right miserablest green. I could be wrong but that is how I think it went. It is more complicated, of course, because before even that we were using various forms here. So God knows but now it is out and proud!

    So make it viral folks! I don’t care and I bet RAB doesn’t. To quote JLB (I could quote JLS but would be righteously hit with the twatting stick for it) everything that really matters belongs to the tradition – not the individual – anyway. Which in an odd way might reflect on our monarchy.

    But make it viral anyway because the Prince of Wails is an interstellar twat – there might be a twat of his supreme twattery on Barnard’s Star but I frigging doubt it’s that close in. It would take more than five years of boldly going at warp nine for Kirk, Spock and Uhuru et al to meet a twat as twattish. I mean why, apart from everything (and that covers a lot), does he always look like he’s playing pocket-billiards with himself in a double-breasted jacket? Truly he is the twat that keeps on twatting. He is an utterly unmitigated twat. He certainly unifies the nation in this regard. I know many of the right who regard him as a magnificent twat and many of the left who also do – he brings the nation together in ribaldry and hatred like nobody – give Roy time in the Ukraine! He really is a piece of work (from the Royal Twattery Department – Kensington Gardens – if you want a superlative twat that is where to go.) because his parents and the likes of William and Harry don’t get the same stick at all. Because they seem decent folks. They seem… dare I say it? Normal. Chuckles is not normal for any definition of that word. He works for any definition of “twat” mind. He lacks the mettle to be a cunt, he’s just a twat.

  • @NickM (and RAB by implication):

    Enough already with the Etymology of
    “Chuckles Buggerlugs the Third”.

    The fundamental argument is that we ain’t wedded to either monarchy or republicanism, the only thing that matters is the form, not the substance.

    Such a result strikes at the heart of both republicans and monarchists since both groups are willing to accept Brenda, but both groups refuse to accept Chuckles.

    In Brenda the form is acceptable but in Chuckles it is not even though the substance remains the same.

    Fuck it! Let’s just vote for President Blair, because then I know that I’m going to get screwed over regardless (as opposed to the possibly / possibly not of dynastic ascension).

  • Snorri Godhi

    WRT reactionary libertarianism, I look forward to look at the links provided, pro and con.
    Meanwhile, a few reasons why I am strongly skeptical.

    * Absolutism in Renaissance states did not prevent the growth of the State. See Trevor-Roper’s essay: The Criss of the Seventeenth Century. See also Brad DeLong’s article: Overstrong Against Thyself. For good measure, see Tocqueville’s L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution. (Pardon my French.)

    * The Roman Republic turning into an empire did not stop the growth of the State: see Joseph Peden’s essay: Inflation and the Fall of the Roman Empire.

    * In Chinese dynasties, the growth of the State was a problem too: see Greg Anderson’s essay: To Change China: A Tale of Three Reformers. (Dealing with the Han, Song, and Ming dynasties.)

    * In Islamic states, the growth of the State was also a problem: see Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah, book 3, chapters 36 to 41.

    I apologize for trying to overwhelm you with scholarship, but this is an issue very close to my heart. I am much more worried about the growth of the State than about the size of the State.

    BTW does anyone know whether the growth of the State was also a problem in pre-Moghul India? that is the one major culture without a bullet point above.

  • RAB

    Well you drew attention to it first John G. 😉 Nick and I have been using it for yonks now, and his etymology is entirely correct. We Kitty Kounters riff off each other, like you’d expect us to.

    Isn’t it unutterably sad that though, that the slack brained saddo who is likely to be our future and short lived King, having been known as Charles all his life, now wishes to be crowned George VII, on account of Charles being a bit unlucky for our Monarchs. Shit no foolin your Royal Highness! So he’s skipped his first three names (Phillip and Arthur being the second and third) in favour of his fourth. What an utter twat he is!

    Well he couldn’t have gone for Phillip could he? Could have confused stupid people, but more intellegent than he, that he was the father not the son. You know the Greek bloke who commanded warships in WW2 and had a couple of braincells to rub together.

    And Arthur has been the kiss of death for whoever has borne it in the Royal Family, they have usually all died in infancy.

    Americans needn’t feel too smug about all this Monarchy stuff either, because they tend towards the same wolf in sheep’s clothing themselves. Don’t you yanks look upon your Presidents with a kind of awe and reverence however much they turn out to be useless venal dickheads? You call them Mr President even when they have long left office, rather than “Yo George!” or “Gimmie five Barry!” doncha?

    And what about the pseudo Dynasties, the Aristocracy in the making or indeed reality. Lots of Roosevelts, Kennedy’s and Bushes in First Family land, it seems to me.

  • Jason

    While on the subject of US arrangements, can anyone pin down the constitutional difference in principle between nations such as France – where the head of state and political executive are one and the same – and states such as Britain and Russia, where the head of state and (for example) the prime minister have distinct roles? I thought it an overt principle that the British head of state’s role in government was largely honorary (and the opposite in Russia)?

    This thread must surely have yielded at least three or four contenders for the Samizdata quote of the day. My money would be on NickM’s “It would take more than five years of boldly going at warp nine for Kirk, Spock and Uhuru et al to meet a twat as twattish.” Although, “He lacks the mettle to be a cunt, he’s just a twat” has the virtue of brevity. Whichever, there seems to be a theme emerging.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Anomaly UK, I would support the principle of absolute monarchy if you modified it to be PAN-monarchy. We should ALL be monarchs of any land we own, not the state.

  • Laird

    Well, RAB, I don’t really think we venerate our Presidents as much as you do your monarchs and assorted other royals, although I could be mistaken. Certainly over the last few decades, at least, they’ve tended to come in for an awful lot of verbal abuse, and downright disrespect in some quarters. (The obvious exception being Obama, who is viewed as The Annointed One by the MSM, but please don’t tar the rest of us with that brush.) Yes, we do call them “Mr. President” after they’ve left office, but that’s true of almost all our officials: former senators, congressmen, judges, cabinet officers, ambassadors, even mayors tend to be addressed by their old titles. It’s just tradition; it certainly doesn’t mean that we venerate them.

    And as to “pseudo dynasties”, there has only been one President Kennedy (although admittedly a few others tried), and the two Roosevelts were only distantly related (fifth cousins). The two Bushes are really as close to a “dynasty” as we’ve come recently (you neglected to mention the two Adamses, but they were very long ago). We’re actually pretty egalitarian, as selecting presidents goes.

  • Mendicant

    Must be so hard for the Queen, never having to worry where her next meal is coming from, never having to sweat and toil, and never have the fear of being unemployed with no future, and never having to use the utterly shite public transport that prevented many from seeing her Jubilee on Sunday.

    She has to suffer the horror (oh god, the horror!), of living a life of Riley, fed and clothed by Weyland robots, living in luxury, faced with the arduous, nightmarish task of waving at people and standing around, making bland speeches, and having lavish, posh dinners at taxpayer expense with “the great and the good” (aka smug twats).

    Just about everyone in Britain would swap places with the Queen in a heartbeat.

    She’s the Queen, not Motoko Kusanagi, for crying out loud.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Laird, apart from Saint John Effing Kennedy, don’t Yankees adore Lincoln? Can anyone say anything bad about him if not in the South, and live?
    And I think I read about a line of Senators ‘serving’ one State for 5 or 6 generations, though I couldn’t say which state. Can anyone elaborate? Did I hear wrong?
    Here in Australia, we don’t seem to have dynasties, though we are into out second generation of Beazleys, our Ambassador to the US being that second ranker.
    How will Britain now fill the House of Lords, with hereditary succession outlawed? Are they all supposed to be unreplaced, with the House slowly dwindling away? Won’t Parliament then become worse?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Must be so hard for the Queen, never having to worry where her next meal is coming from, never having to sweat and toil, and never have the fear of being unemployed with no future, and never having to use the utterly shite public transport that prevented many from seeing her Jubilee on Sunday.

    I suppose about the only decent point you have provided is the line about public transport. If the Queen is fortunate in some respects is hardly a point against her, unless you are saying that inheriting anything good is bad.

    This is not an egalitarian blog that regards inheritance per se as evil. In the Queen’s case, however, she has inherited not just a certain level of comfort, true, but also a great deal of responsibility and has in actual fact very little discretion in how she spends and consumes. You might like to try a life with 24/7 involvement in the public eye.

    Bit of a chippy cunt, aren’t you?

  • Another reason why Chuckles may not wish to rule under the Regnal name of Charles III is this was the regnal name used by the Jacobite pretender Charles Edward Stewart also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie (the first 3 dog sheep-herding combo to attempt to seize the British throne).

  • Jason

    Mendicant, just to add to Johnathan’s remarks, I would never want to swap places with the Queen, and I wonder if you would if you understood what it was to live a life almost entirely dictated by external forces. In all honesty, I can’t see that life as any more than one spent in a gilded cage.

    Liberty is far more important to me than the shiny stuff you mention, and I’d be surprised if I were the only one. I think your apparently low estimation of a sense of responsibility and duty speaks more about your misplaced envy than it does the monarch.

  • Stephen Willmer

    Jason, in relation to France (specifically their current Republic), if dimly-remembered political science classes are any guide, the presidency and the premiership were explicitly designed by de Gaulle to be competitive and complementary, rather than one one having the upper hand over the other. This design held good into the early 1990s. Indeed, I think the French called it cohabitation (say it wiz a Fwench accent). But over the last 20-odd years, the presidency has emerged as the dominant force and French prime ministers are no longer political big hitters in their own right. Indeed, there was a time when I could readily tell you the name of the current Fremch PM, but right now I have no idea.

    If I ever knew, I certainly cannot remember why this sea-change.

    Hope that clarifies things a little

  • MutiMonkee

    the current British version maintains the trappings of monarchy with none of the substance, and so is a rather pointless waste of money.

    you are forgetting the only reason I would keep them. Anything that pisses of lefties is money well spent.

  • RAB

    Heh, prised another comment out of you then Laird? I was just stirring the pot my friend.

    We Brits arn’t daft, we save our veneration and respect for the Royals who deserve it. So that is the Queen, who has been completely selfless in her dedication and service to her people, Prince Phillip (a bit of a hero of mine. All those gaffs he’s supposed to make? well they arn’t, he’s just having a laugh, saying things we’d all like to say but can’t.). Princess Anne, who is as down to earth as it is possible to get, and very frugal like her mum. And William and Harry of course, about as close to two ordinary blokes as the Royal family have ever produced.

    All the rest of them can go to hell as far as we are concerned. Ok Andrew did his bit in the Falklands, but both he and brother Edward are solid gold dorks.

    And as to those further down the royal food chain, The Queen is reputed to have once said of Princess Michael of Kent… “Oh dear will she be there too? She’s far to grand for the likes of us, how will we cope?”

    As for you Mendicant, your really are the Prince of Twats.