Most people would say that they have two grandmothers – the mother of their father, and the mother of their mother.
However, for the fifteen nations that make up the Commonwealth Realms, I believe it can be equally said that we all have three grandmothers. The mother of our fathers, the mother of our mothers, and the mother of nations.
Queen Elizabeth II was the nation’s grandmother, one who was dearly loved and cherished.
For many alive Elizabeth II was not just The Queen, but The Queen. A whole generation of people has been born, grown up and died only knowing Queen Elizabeth II as the Queen of the United Kingdom, the Queen of Canada, the Queen of Australia, the Queen of Jamaica, etc. She has been an almost constant presence in modern British history, from the dark and troubled days of the Second World War to the turbulent and chaotic times of the 21st century.
It’s still hard to describe just how strange everything feels now. The Queen is dead, and the world will never be the same again.
All of us will remember her unfailing service, her sincere faith, her eternal good cheer, and her unflinching desire to make good her promises to the Commonwealth so many years ago. Those who had the privilege of meeting her recall her warmth, her razor-sharp wit and dry humour, and her capacity to make you feel like you were the most important person in the room, not she. She was a giant of her times and there is not one figure in recent history who can command as much respect or adoration.
Queen Elizabeth II oversaw the transition of Empire to Commonwealth, of a war-torn society to a burgeoning modern democracy, a world riven by authoritarianism stepping into the light of liberty. She faced down apartheid in South Africa, applauded her former colonies as they embraced independence, and prayed each year for the good fortune and happiness of all her subjects.
Under her Crown, we were all one people.
It was undeniably the highest honour imaginable to have been a subject to such a monarch, and it is my keenest sorrow to witness her passing. I know that she found courage in her faith in Christ and the Church of England, and I have no doubt she we will walk with the King of Kings through the gates of Heaven.
Her son, King Charles III, has now assumed her throne. I have every confidence in him to ably succeed her in this heavy burden that he has now been called by Grace to take upon his shoulders. He has had a lifetime of tutelage under one of Britain’s most beloved and respected monarchs in her history and has demonstrated remarkable insight and wisdom that was truly ahead of its times.
He inherits a Commonwealth equally at a time of change as his mother found it, a United Kingdom facing challenges at home and abroad, and a Royal Family constantly shifting to keep up with the demands of its age. A trying time for anyone, but His Majesty is up to the challenge. I eagerly look forward to seeing the fruits of his reign.
I was honoured to have been a subject of Queen Elizabeth II. I am honoured still to now declare myself a loyal, obedient and joyful subject of His Majesty King Charles III.
God save The King.
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By Ilija Dokmanovic — 3 months ago
As conservatives and moral traditionalists, it’s easy to get despondent and fearful over just how vast and endless the problems we face today are. Here in America especially, the analogy of the “blue wave” of Millenial and Gen-Z voters often leads one to believe that we are surrounded on all sides by an endless sea of “progressivism”.
Nevertheless, in the great blue sea of blue-haired androgynes, we still have our ship, and we still have strong winds that will, in the long term, lead us to the safety of the land.
That ship is the Supreme Court, and it is our job as voters and conservative/traditional activists to ensure that she sails, and that we don’t let this next decade of judicial dominance go to waste as we have with other institutions of power – like the 2019 dominance of the Tory Party in the UK Parliament.
Where power resides is often unclear to most voters, especially in American politics. Our elected representatives in the Senate or the House are often bought and paid for by donors, PACs, business interests, or lobby groups well before they swear their oath of office and promise to represent their constituents to the best of their ability. The same goes with the Presidency, and the hundreds of millions of dollars that are spent on individual runs for the Oval Office.
However, out of the three branches of government that I would trust the most with representing my best interests, I would have to place my faith in the power of the Supreme Court.
These days we’ll often hear and see politicians and activists on social media and in other public forums hounding about the “abuse of power” in the Supreme Court, especially after the recent decisions to overturn Affirmative Action for university applicants, striking down Student Loan Forgiveness, and allowing businesses to refuse services if it goes against their religious beliefs (a.k.a being allowed to refuse baking a cake for a homosexual wedding).
Hillary Clinton, everyone’s favorite former First Lady and “future President”, accused the Supreme Court of being on the side of the wealthy and major corporations.
AOC cried that the recent decisions were “destroying the legitimacy of the court.”
Many more have advocated for more Supreme Court Justices, or regulatory bodies overseeing the Supreme Court so that it doesn’t make the “wrong decisions” for the American people.
While there are plenty of detractors to the efficiency and legitimacy of the Supreme Court, I still argue that this is probably the most important branch of government to protect, and fight for, due to the nature of its being. It was around this time last year I wrote about the Supreme Court in the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision.
Once again, demonstrably, we have seen why the Supreme Court is the most important branch of government, and why it is under attack, and why these days in particular it is the most important battleground for American conservatism in politics.
Unlike Congress, or the Executive, Supreme Court Justices are not elected – they’re selected, by nomination, from a sitting President. The power of money and lobbies are, at the very least, dampened by the fact that they have no official power in choosing a Justice, nor any means to fund campaigns or influence election processes.
Justices are in the role for life. An appointment that doesn’t rely on reelection is one that doesn’t rely on being financed by donors and backers. Once they’re there, they’re there for good. Personally, I trust a judge who doesn’t need to go begging to anyone that will fund their campaign coffers every two to four years more than I do a sitting member of Congress, Republican or Democrat.
When it comes to the selection process, the concern for almost everyone is that those who are selected are “the wrong type of person”, and stacking the Supreme Court with partisan ideologues. Often, if not always, the nominated judge will reflect the character and ideology of the serving administration. Our most recently appointed Supreme Court Justice, Kentaji Brown Jackson reflects the Biden administration almost perfectly. She’s an activist judge, appointed not just because of her record and experience, but also because she fits the diversity quota, and agrees with the “current thing”. This is a shame, because I can only imagine how humiliating it must be to be selected primarily because of your gender and race, rather than your achievements.
And it was no secret that it was a race-based decision. The Biden administration promised well before his decision to select Jackson that he was “looking forward to making sure there’s a Black woman on the Supreme Court to make sure we in fact get everyone represented”.
Naturally, any one who points these facts out is an intolerant racist who wants to “keep Black Women™ down!”
It is no secret that Republicans select conservative judges to the Supreme Court in a similar fashion – rather it’s expected that they will.
But, as I’m sure you know dear reader, politics is not about compromise or shaking hands with the other side of the aisle. Politics is about winning. The Supreme Court in the United States is no different.
Which is why the Trump administration was a Godsend for conservatives in the United States. Not one, not two, but three successful nominations of conservative Justices have ensured that the Supreme Court will remain one of the few branches of government that is on “our side” at least in terms of beliefs and core values.
If Trump is able to secure a second non-consecutive term, or if we are able to have any sort of Republican in the next administration, it is likely that we’d gain at least one more conservative Justice, ensuring that a liberal Supreme Court is almost virtually impossible within the next two decades.
In recent years, with the overturning of Roe v. Wade amongst other landmark decisions, we’ve merely had a taste of what sort of power the Judicial Branch of government in the United States holds, and what they can do with that power.
If we were to see a completely stacked conservative Supreme Court, with Justices Sotomeyer and Kagan aging out of the role and being replaced, who knows what sort of decisions could be reversed and which others could be implemented? One can only dream!
But leaving the Supreme Court to its own devices is simply not enough. While I trust our current conservative Justices more than most politicians to make well-guided, reasoned, and inherently moral decisions in the judicial branch, they cannot tackle all problems on their own.
We ought to take a lesson out of the Left’s guidebook, and through demonstrations publicly and online, through widespread discussion, and most importantly through trawling through the hundreds, if not thousands of landmark decisions to nitpick and find Constitutional inconsistencies and government oversteps. They are there, and a case for overturning them can be made with the right amount of knowledge, preparation and legal due diligence.
So, while in many other aspects of American politics it may seem that we as conservatives and moral traditionalists are overwhelmed by the crashing waves in a sea of rabid liberalism, we still have power over a mighty ship that we must ensure does not sink into the abyss.
The only way to survive those rogue waves is to sail over them, and sail we will.
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By Oliver Peter Smith — 7 months ago
“Hero-worship exists, has existed, and will forever exist, universally, among mankind.” – Thomas Carlyle, ‘On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History’, 1841.
I often read history through the lens of ‘Great Men’*. The term ‘Great Men’ refers to ‘Great Man Theory’. Originating from Thomas Carlyle’s lectures on heroism in 1840, later being published as ‘On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History’ in 1841, the theory alleges that history is dictated by those men who possess a remarkable ability to inspire, lead, operate, and execute. These men often find themselves climbing the ladders of power with haste, winning decisive battles or reinvigorating policy and therefore dictating the future of their people for generations to come. Furthermore, these men are rare to come by.
Most notably, Great Men most often rise to power after periods of struggle and disdain. This is no coincidence, of course, as it is during these times when those seeking power find the cracks to reach it. Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, and Caesar Augustus all rose to power sometime after periods of national crisis, and afterwards pursued a relentless set of reforms. It makes one wonder, as the United Kingdom struggles and toddles along with little direction, how long it will be before another Great Man makes our nation his own. I am not going to write yet another list of everything that is wrong in the United Kingdom in 2023, as this has become rather cliché, but it is worth saying that in such bleak and despairing times, people will seek a Great Man to worship.
Yet, if history is so full of Great Men, then where are the Great Men of today? Some present the argument that history is written and read through the lens of nostalgia, and that perhaps these Great Men of the past were not vastly different to the leaders we have today. While nostalgia will always tilt perceptions of history to some degree, it would be unfair to discredit the Great Men of history due to it. Or perhaps, the leaders of today simply do not have as much opportunity to prove their ‘greatness’. While Bonaparte, Caesar, and Augustus could ride into battle on horseback, wielding swords and witnessing stunning victories before their own eyes, the leaders of today can only really prove their greatness via oratory and data. However, this isn’t to say that a leader cannot be ‘great’ post 19th century. Winston Churchill may not have rode into battle on horseback, but he can be considered a Great Man nonetheless.
However, the greater point here is that modern democracy simply isn’t built to elect Great Men. It is impossible for the electorate to understand the character of candidates to any considerable degree if information is only presented to them via snappy slogans, 60-minute debates on Channel 4, and vague five-point policy plans. Not only do we rarely understand what it is the candidate wants to do, but we know nearly nothing about the candidates themselves. A 30-minute interview with Andrew Neil, however great of an interviewer he may be, will not accurately inform us of the deeper character of the interviewee. If one wishes to elect Great Men, you must know them personally, or at least be aware of their faults and goods to some deeper level. The modern electorate simply cannot elect Great Men, and not for a fault of their own. You could call it a factory for mediocrity.
Compare this to older processes of election, and the story is different. Richard D Brown talks of the system of election soon after the United States was birthed in his article titled ‘Where Have All the Great Men Gone?’, and says:
“The key process of nominating candidates was dominated by layers of local, state, and national elites. Candidates were selected by their peers, people who had witnessed them in action for years and who knew first-hand their strengths and weaknesses. Whatever the office in question, relatively homogeneous groups of incumbents and their associates selected candidates from among their own number. While the system was open to new men, and choices required approval at the polls, it had a distinctly oligarchic flavor. High esteem among the peer group was a prerequisite for major elective offices.”
The likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were elected because the electorate knew them. The electorate trusted them. They assumed the presidency because those voting for them could trust that they had the guts, the character, and the bottle to lead this newly born nation. Furthermore, as Brown later says, these men were elected on the basis of “private, personal virtue as a prerequisite to public virtue”, and on the basis of possessing “superior wisdom, energy, initiative, and moral stature”. One could say that this system intended to elect Great Men. Moreover, this certainly is not an advocacy for the implementation of the electoral system of the early years of the United States. Instead, it tells us that our current electoral system is flawed, and that we should seek to implement electoral systems with the potential to fight off mediocrity. Electoral systems featuring some form of meritocracy and aristocracy appear to do this best.
Moreover, it was said earlier that a modern leader cannot ride into battle on horseback. Therefore, how do we identify Great Men in the modern world? Such a man should not be judged by the endless quest for progress, nor should they be wholly judged by however much of a percent our GDP rises by each quarter. If we are to identify Great Men, we need to search for the correct metrics to find them. This requires hefty research, and it wouldn’t be proper of me to claim to know how to identify Great Men in the modern world in this short article. Yet, having the capability to identify Great Men is central to moving past mediocrity.
However, as a final point, it is worth noting that the Great Men of history often have common personality traits. We have already talked of energy and charisma, but initiative, principle, and confidence are personality traits often found, and these traits should be a starting point when attempting to identify a Great Man in the modern world. Moreover, these personality traits remain massively important. While a Great Man of today may not have access to swords, bayonets, and rifles, reform and reinvigoration remains as important as it ever has. Only a master statesman is capable of successfully reforming and reinvigorating a nation. The likes of Bonaparte, Caesar and Augustus all had the vigour to do just that, and all three understood that politics is about winning.
*Today, ‘Great Men’ are sometimes referred to as ‘Big Beasts’, and the purpose behind this is to include great female leaders under the term. While I rarely like to modernise language (and haven’t done so in the article above), I do believe it is worth writing this note here, for there have been many great female leaders of whom possessed many of the same traits as Great Men.
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By themallard — 11 months ago
The purpose of this short enquiry is into the significance that Immanuel Kant’s essay, “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?” (1784) played in the development of political thought. It is widely known and remarked upon that the Answer is a major intervention in the apotheosis of the Enlightenment, and its remarkable brevity has provided great philosophical inspiration. My concern here, however, is the specifically political implications of Kant’s observations and the wider Enlightenment (Aufklärung in Kant’s native German). The fact that German is the original language might seem a minor point, but in reality is the central issue to my enquiry: German is famously difficult to translate directly into English, the most common philosophical examples being Geist (Hegel) and dasein (Heidegger). Kant is, quite obviously, not spared this.
The opening lines remark that Enlightenment is “man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity”. Immediately we are faced with a semiotic problem: some translations of Kant’s phrase are “self-imposed nonage”, whilst some also use the more evocative minority. In this sense, “immaturity/nonage/minority”, might seem interchangeable but in the history of political ideas hold varying degrees of weight: immaturity is the most commonly used term because of its relationship to the wider Enlightenment’s project of reason, rationality and clarity of thought, which is a state of achievement of the intellect. Nonage and minority, however – which is the chosen translation of Columbia University and, as Mary J. Gregor shows, was Kant’s intended meaning – mean more specifically a state of dependence, as Kant quickly moves onto, arguing that it is the “inability to make use of one’s own understanding without direction of another”.
The reason minority is more appropriate than immaturity is that the latter implies a lack of critical faculties, whereas the former implies a denial of their existence. It is not that “man” or “the human” cannot make use of rational thought, but that he is not allowed to do so – in a state of self-imposition, of course. Kant is not claiming that the human race has been enslaved, but that it has thus far displayed a “lack of resolution and courage” to use its own powers of intellect. None of this is particularly original or insightful commentary: indeed, Kant deals with it in the first paragraph of the Answer. What matters, however, is the historical context of political thought which was inevitably in the back of Kant’s mind.
As the Answer moves on, Kant claims that it is unlikely individuals in their own lives will be able to embrace this rational freedom fully, and that those who do will “only make an uncertain leap over the narrowest ditch”. Kant directs, instead, his call to courage to “a public” (ein Publikum) which has made the mistake of allowing its thinking to be done by a minority (and here the word is specifically denoting a numerical minority) and not itself. “Publikum” offers another linguistic indeterminacy, unfortunately, on both sides of the linguistic barrier: in translation, for instance, “publikum” might mean people, or public, or audience; in English, meanwhile, ‘people’ might mean several individuals, a single mass, a multitude, a greater entity than merely the sum of those alive, and so on. Here, we can reasonably assume, due to Kant’s context, he means “the public” in the pre-democratic tradition, of the wider numbers of individuals who are not “fit to rule”.
It is this proto-democratic move that makes Kant so significant, and his comment on “minority” often passed over by political theorists. To understand why, we must take a brief detour to the medieval jurists. In late-twelfth and early-thirteenth century England, there arose the idea of a specifically public realm that belonged not to the King, but to the wider entity of the public world; again, not public in the sense of the multitude of undifferentiated people, but the “eminent domain” that, as Ernst Kantorowicz observed, belonged to the continuity of a domain whose matters”touched all”.
At the same time in history was the slow transference of ideas from the religious to the secular, specifically the application by Baldus de Ubaldis of St. Augustine’s idea of the “mystical body” (corpus mysticum) of the Church, to the public, using the same terminology – a corpus populus mysticum, a mystical public body. The first, emergence, and then alignment of the public with the “political realm” is significant when we read Kant’s appeal to the public, as he was speaking to a surprisingly recent development of political thought, which was still much-resisted by monarchs and republics across Europe (it is important to remember ‘republic’ and ‘democracy’ are not synonymous).
Before understanding Kant’s significance fully, however, there was another major development by Baldus that requires explanation: the idea of the public as a legal minor. Indeed, “the public” was more a legal creation than anything else, but its legal definition and status was as yet undetermined. As Joseph Canning details, Baldus argued in the fourteenth century, that the populus could not possess a “legally valid will”, as it was incapable of acting entirely on its own. Instead, it “acts and wills” through its representative: the King (as in a monarchy) or council (as in a city-republic), whose actions are taken as synonymous with the realm. It was following a rediscovery of a Roman Law Edict, moreover, that the legal terminology which anticipated Baldus’ claim arose in the thirteenth century. This Edict observed that those people “under the law” were “madmen, children, and cities”. The conflation with children and madmen implied that a public had no mental maturity that would allow it to govern alone. It did not merely require a King – it depended on one.
This is why Kant’s use of the word “minority” holds so much significance in the history of political thought up to the Enlightenment; Kant directly and boldly refuted the very basis of anti-democratic thought, by claiming that man – in the public sense – was not a minority but in fact did possess the rational intellect capable of making its own choices and, therefore, ought to be given the freedom to exercise that intellect.
There is, however, a short comment to make in conclusion. Kant’s proto-democratic claims did not prevent the nineteenth century thinker, John Stuart Mill, from making the argument that whilst some “publics” (to use Kant’s term) had achieved maturity, others had not – and it was therefore the responsibility of the mature publics to guide the immature publics to civilisation in a benevolent imperialism that, illiberally enough, would influence the imperial project for the rest of its existence. As Jennifer Pitts makes clear, in Mill’s eyes, “progressiveness, the cardinal human quality, was also the monopoly of a select group of societies”.
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