Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Better Alterntive to Moanrchy

ABC’s 7.30 had an interview with British PM David Cameron the other day (see here for a full transcript and a video). Among other question in this quite non invasive interview, Cameron was asked what he would “say to those [Australian] people that say it's [the monarchy] an outdated, unwanted institution”. Cameron’s recited reply was:
I ask myself, "Would I rather have some elected political president when you've got this institution that brings the country and the Commonwealth together, that's above politics, that symbolises nationhood and unity of the Commonwealth?" Isn't that far better, with all the links back into history and greatness that it has, rather than some here today, gone tomorrow president?
That reply made me laugh. It really is funny to see how far people would go in order to enshrine an idea the general public would obviously resent against under normal circumstances. The psychological trick here is to present the bad things while claiming so openly they are good things to such an extent that most people wouldn’t even think about the glaring problem in the argument and accept it at face value. So let me counteract:
  1. Above politics: The monarchy is knee deep in politics. News of the royal family intervening in this and that is all too common. And when Prince Charles has his way with homeopathic hospitals and such, we know the monarchy's political clout is costing lives.
  2. Symbol for unity: As the head of one religion that, by now, is far from dominant and is just one of many (not to mention the rising portion of non believers), how can the monarchy stand for unity?
  3. Link back to history: Yes, a link back to a history of people killing one another for power. A link back to a history of one family dominating the kingdoms of most Europe and leading to Europe's greatest blood baths. By the way, should I mention the would be Nazi sympathizing king that was only accidentally put to the side through falling for a divorcee? The monarchy can only act as a link to history if one suffers from a terrible short memory syndrome.
I can continue, but instead I’ll give my answer to David Cameron’s question. I suspect that in the least, some 300 million Americans would agree with me when I say I would prefer an elected president over someone who enshrines the class divide simply by virtue of the fact you have to be born the correct way to be eligible. I would prefer the elected president every time.
I might even spin things the way Cameron does: “Would you rather see the King of the USA or some elected president?” Somehow, mixing “king” with “USA” doesn’t sound right at all. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth. And very rightly so!

For further reading on this matter, I recommend The Monarchy by Christopher Hitchens (whose image it is up there).

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