When you hear talk of globalisation, the winners and losers have become fairly set categories: the “winners” are the hyper-mobile, global class that are capable of picking up and putting down almost anywhere, whether that is London or LA, Tokyo or Berlin, Moscow or – well, maybe not Moscow, at least not at the moment.
These winners are the beneficiaries of the most dynamic economy that has ever existed in history before, in such a way that – even if we cannot put a hard date on it – I think it is pretty clear that the modern global economy defines the contemporary era of mankind more than anything else. We are living in the “global age” and there will inevitably be those for whom that age is good.
And then there are those for whom that age is bad. These are the majority of people whose lives are usually spent in one place, from school to work and, if they’re lucky, a few years of retirement. They might be more mobile than their ancestors, for whom life was inevitably spent in the same village, whilst they travel around their county or district but, broadly speaking, never stray too far.
These are the losers, we are told. They have suffered the effects of globalisation – declining industry, evaporating investment, creaking and groaning infrastructure – but are powerless to do anything about it, as they get caught in a cycle in which power follows money and money flows away.
So why not go where the money is? Why not travel abroad, where the work is? Part of the reason is that the last thing the “losers” have left is each other. The day before the In/Out Brexit Referendum, news vox-pops of people on the street saying they would vote to Leave, when asked why, gestured and said “look around. What do I have left to lose?” The backdrop of shuttered shops and boarded windows was the answer, and it wasn’t a very compelling one.
But the answer off-screen was one that the Remain camp had tried to buy into – they had their families, their households, their communities. When David Cameron claimed Brexit would “put a bomb” under the British economy, and George Osborne’s treasury pumped out statistics on the damage it would do to the average household, they were trying to speak to the rational brain that fears material loss. It made sense – it was the same brain they had been speaking to for six years with messages of necessary spending cuts, tax breaks, and increasing job opportunities.
Except this did not work because that audience was not there. The average person did not have the material loss to be threatened, and at a time when fatherlessness was rising, families were breaking down, and over three million households were single-parent; even that small amount to lose was felt to be lost already.
The one thing that the losers had left was their community – and by and large, these were communities that had been decimated by the austerity years. So, they stayed, because their families might be thin and disappearing but their community remained fairly strong.
When Karl Marx decided that the slow transfer of people from the countryside to the cities meant that the “proletariat” would emerge, he was attempting a scientific analysis of what was already happening. As people moved from field to factory, leaving behind their old places in the world and attempting to take up new ones, they forged bonds of solidarity to replace the ones they lost. Human beings are deeply sociable, both from an inherent reality, and an existential need; we can only come into this world as a result of others, but we need to be seen and recognised while we’re here.
So, Britain especially saw the rise of industrial communities – and not just the political conscious-raising efforts of Trade Unions, for politics is tiresome and boring, really. There were also football clubs, local churches, free schools, civic action groups, and so on – in Bristol, there were 400 alone. I’m sure Marx’s miserable mind was able to only imagine the political, but in truth the personal is so much more interesting and enriching than the political. Don’t be fooled that they are the same thing.
This is an excerpt from “Nuclear”.
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By Dustin Lovell — 7 months ago
Among the first plays I often assign to my teenage tutorial students is Much Ado About Nothing. Written somewhere in 1598-1599 and within a year of Henry V, Julius Caesar, and As You Like It, the play shows Shakespeare as by then a master of Comedy and features several tropes that exemplify the genre. The would-be disastrous elements that might threaten tragedy—the plot to deceive Claudio by soiling Hero’s name, the apparent death by grief of the heroine, the turning of brothers-in-arms against each other—are kept safely within the realm of Comedy via ironic backstops—the fact that the miscreants are already captured before the terrible wedding scene, the dramatic irony that the whole mess might have been cleared up if Leonato had stopped to listen to the constables’ report or if Dogberry knew the words he was using, &c.
Much Ado’s consistently exemplifying the upside-down nature of Comedy—a masquerade allowing characters to speak honestly, a pair of fake wooing scenes that leads to confessions of real love, a misunderstanding on the constables’ part that leads to correct apprehension of the villains—all make it my favorite of Shakespeare’s comedies. Just as I use it as my students’ inaugural Shakespeare, I usually recommend Much Ado to people who want a decent entry into Shakespeare outside of the classroom, especially if they can find a good production of it.
In addition to Shakespeare’s reworking of familiar tropes in new ways, readers and audiences will find in Much Ado another staple of Elizabethan Comedy: bawdy jokes. Within the first few lines, banter of a specific strain is introduced that underscores and arguably provokes the main conflict surrounding Claudio and Hero: that of cuckoldry. After some initial exposition of the recent battles by a messenger to the local governor Leonato (as well as a bit too much protesting on Beatrice’s part about a Signior Benedick), the soldiers show up, and the preeminent Don Pedro notes Leonato’s daughter, provoking the lewd joke and theme:
I think this is your daughter.
Her mother hath many times told me so.
Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?
Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
You have it full, Benedick; we may guess by this what you are, being a man.—Truly, the lady fathers herself.—Be happy, lady; for you are like an honorable father.
Along with the casual bombast that unites the men (in which Beatrice soon partakes with as much alacrity as they), there is a suggestion of Benedick’s reputation as a supposed worrier of husbands. Whether or not this actually is his reputation and character (doubtful, as we’ll see) or whether it is merely a ribald compliment by a man too old to have participated in the recent action, it establishes Benedick as synonymous with the play’s one-up-manship and humorous outrage, often at the expense of women—here, the joker’s dead wife.
And there’s the rub, at least for modern readers: can we enjoy a play that is built, from incidental banter to entire plot structure, on a suspicion of women? Furthermore, are we allowed to compass—and, God forfend, enjoy—a man like Signior Benedick?
No less than Shakespeare’s Globe has taken up the first question in an examination of the play by Dr. Miranda Fay Thomas, whose treatment is well done. Using Beatrice’s cry of “O God, that I were a man!” as a jumping-off point, Thomas explores the recourses available to men and not women through the play, from the initial male bonding to “the ability to take personal revenge on offenders like Claudio, openly defy father-figures like Leonato, or even simply to fall in love with a person of her choosing and for her affection not to be seen as weakness, nor her sexual desires be used as evidence of her inconstant character.” The article continues through an examination of possible reasons for the play’s focus on the men’s apparent insecurity; “the very fact that women can hurt them emotionally,” Thomas argues, “is a chink in their armour that they do not want to be exposed.” This theme, of course, can be found throughout the play, a fact of which Thomas argues Shakespeare, whom she demarcates from his characters, was conscious, using as he does the imbalance of female characters (notably played by men at the time) “to his advantage by allowing us to see how vulnerable women like Hero and Beatrice could be in Elizabethan society.”
Though I don’t share all her interpretations of either the play itself or of today’s society, I believe Dr. Thomas’s argument worth the read, and one that, unlike some takes, does constructively add to the discourse. The broader critique of Much Ado along these lines, if undertaken to add to rather than subtract from our enjoyment of the play and if one avoids substituting mere criticizing for literary criticism, is a legitimate and fruitful one—and, in fact, jejune to the text.
The play, itself, examines the “battle of the sexes” tropes of Comedy, though I think ultimately to edify and expand the genre. While I don’t believe for a second that Shakespeare’s primary goal as a writer was social critique, the entire structure and tension of several of his comedies rest on some kind of imbalance between men and women that must be resolved by play’s end, and he milks the dramatic potential of said imbalances for all they’re worth. Much Ado would be boring if Beatrice weren’t more than equal to Benedick—who, we should note, is usually the butt rather than head of the play’s jokes—and much of the play’s ado could have been spared had the men simply listened to the women (a common theme in comedy that venerates both sexes and their respective complement). So, if there is what we’d today call sexism in the play, it does not necessitate that we vilify the whole thing, itself, as sexist. Indeed, the way Much Ado works out undercuts the soldiers’ suspicion of women; such insecurity as is veiled in the above joke and the broader plot ends up doing more harm than good to the men, and is eventually chastised—a formula Shakespeare reused again more seriously in The Winter’s Tale, among others.
However, we are left with the question of what to do with Benedick. To first-time audiences, Benedick would be the obvious source of the play’s supposed misogyny. Besides the low-hanging fruit of his name (full pun intended—as Shakespeare meant such things to be!), his persona of being too good for most women and living proudly as a bachelor lends him to modern castigation.
In Act II, Scene 3, Benedick soliloquizes:
I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviors to love, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love…May I be so converted and see with these eyes? I cannot tell; I think not…One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace. Rich she shall be, that’s certain; wise, or I’ll none; virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen her; fair, or I’ll never look on her; mild, or come not near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall be of what colour it please God.
One’s initial response, nowadays (to our absolute peril), might have to be an at least prudent, defensive cringe on Benedick’s behalf against his own words. With the speech’s objectification, impossible beauty standards, fat-shaming, slut-shaming, ableism, &c, one can imagine the modern response. Yet, to the student or prospective audience member who would question whether we should laud such a chauvinistic, misogynistic, ableist, probably racist character, I’d say yes—because I don’t think he’s any of those things.
One general piece of wisdom is that when Shakespeare hands us a foil, be it a sword or a character dichotomy, we should pick it up. Benedick’s words—indeed, his entire character throughout the play—must be measured against Claudio. Before the metaphysical battle in 19th-century art and literature between Romanticism and Realism, Shakespeare had already staged the fight in several of his plays and poems; in Much Ado, it can be seen in Benedick and Claudio’s contrasting approaches to love.
Like many other romantics in Shakespeare, the inexperienced Claudio is taken away by his passion for Hero. While he arguably has the flimsy excuse of being new to this sort of thing, several aspects of his behavior point to the shallowness of his passion. Besides the fact that much of his language regarding Hero is that of commodity and trade, Claudio is just as easily led out of love as he was into it—a function of his romance’s being, from start to finish, based on externals. If we didn’t already know it, the play, itself, shows us such things can mislead for both negative and positive effects; in lieu of a play-within-a-play we are even treated to a masquerade that serves as a microcosm of the play and concretizes several of its core themes. Although the blame for Claudio’s rejection at the wedding ceremony explicitly and legally belongs more to Don John and Boracchio’s deception than to Claudio, the young romantic who leaves himself most vulnerable to passionate love nonetheless causes much harm by it.
This is a far cry from the supposedly woman-hating Benedick. For all his defensiveness against romance—and I do believe it is a defensiveness, a control and limit around an existing vulnerability, as Dr. Thomas suggests above, though one I think constructed as much to protect women from his own actions as himself from theirs—Benedick causes very little anguish in the play. Not until his conflict, the quintessential questioning of that venerable dictum “Bros before hoes,” is concretized by Beatrice’s requirement that loving her means killing Claudio, is there any real possibility of Benedick’s causing pain to a woman. Even then, the bashful man who declares his love for Beatrice is very different from the one who previously enumerated the terms of his proud but stagnant bachelorhood (the embarrassing, quickening changes brought by love being another core trope of Comedy).
Examined again with his later humility in mind, the speech reveals that he is not as sure against love as he might wish to seem; leaving room for the scene’s humorous extemporizing, he has his list of traits ready. Furthermore, anyone who knows the blindness of love qua comic trope and has been paying attention can see that he is describing, for the most part, Beatrice, herself. “Fair…wise…virtuous…mild [(eh, can’t win ’em all)]…noble…of good discourse…” He has already admitted most of these about the woman before his notorious monologue. If he doesn’t have her consciously in mind, his subconscious is at least primed for the scene’s later ploy by the rest of the men to have him overhear words of Beatrice’s affection.
To the modern reader or student, I would submit that far from hating women Benedick actually respects both them and himself enough not to mislead them. Further, I don’t believe he is as uninterested in them as he makes out—for consider how quickly he is directed towards Beatrice. One cannot turn an engine empty of fuel. However, his shortsightedness aside, he apparently knows himself and what it will take to make him genuinely committed, not just in name like Claudio. I’d even read his high standards as a confession of a knowledge of his own passion, which he has wisely and philogynically kept controlled behind an off-putting mask of bravado and bachelorhood—a veritable Elizabethan St. Christopher! Perhaps that’s a bit far. Nonetheless, brash and arrogant he may be, but he’s not the one who ruins Leonato’s daughter’s wedding day (I write this as a new father of a daughter far prettier than I was prepared for).
It may seem contradictory to hide a respect and love for women behind a mask of brash misogyny; yet, it is not the only time Shakespeare uses the ploy. The oft-maligned Petruccio, with a more blatant misogyny than Benedick’s, mimics and turns the tables on Kate’s shrewish misandry and, in Dr. Peter Saccio’s words in his excellent lecture series on Shakespeare, thereby releases her from said misandry and “teaches her to play.” Or, consider Hamlet’s much more vicious and tragic rejection of Ophelia, which he, as prince, must arguably do for her own good (though, in my opinion and his mask of madness aside, Hamlet is more a Claudio than a Benedick, and, at the risk of channeling Polonius, I wouldn’t want him near my daughter). Finally, for a dramatized examination of Prince Hal’s mask, read the Prologue to my novel Sacred Shadows and Latent Light.
In a time where even the mention of certain words, concepts, or perspectives can lead to the extirpation of an artist or his or her work, the lesson of Benedick bears stating explicitly: yes, characters do not equal the author, but neither may our shallow interpretations of characters equal the actual character. Forgive my being anachronistic and offering yet more unasked-for wisdom for reading his writing, but if Shakespeare sets up a Chekov’s gun (or a Leonato’s joke, as it were), it will go off—or be undercut and nuanced—by play’s end. The outrage in Much Ado should not be read as misogyny for its own sake, nor should masks of things like misogyny, conscious or unconscious, be taken for the real thing; rather, the low view of women sets up for the comic treatment of masculine bravado—which, in the form of Benedick and the revealed depths of his character, bashfully wants to respect, protect, and be loved by the very femininity it warily eschews.
The remedy, to further take something from Nothing, is to trust that Shakespeare (and, dare I say, other authors of the canon) and his characters have more depth than we can initially see. Beatrice and Benedick cure each other of their respective shrewishness and bachelorhood; may it not be that learning to enjoy characters such as they and works such as Much Ado, would cure modern interpretations of their own mask of love and philanthropy, which, like that of Claudio or of Don John, may very well hide a much deeper misogyny?
This is not to say we should avoid legitimate criticism (though, again, literary criticism =/= merely criticizing the perceived faults of a work), but such examination, in addition to seeking to build our knowledge for present and future readers, should approach works directly yet humbly. As I have noted in previous pieces, authors like Shakespeare already contain in their works and answer many of the critiques we might make.
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By Derek Turner — 2 months ago
In 2014, speaking via Skype to a conference held at the Vatican, Donald Trump’s later advisor, Steve Bannon, casually mentioned Julius Evola (1898-1974), a thinker little known outside Italy, and who even within Italy was conventionally dismissed as a former Fascist whose writings still exerted a pernicious influence on the ’far right’. When that comment was unearthed by the US media in 2016, it sparked a furore amongst those desperate to discredit Trump as a danger to democracy. It also drew mainstream attention to a strange and possibly wide-reaching philosophy.
Evola’s Fascist sympathies went much deeper than anti-communist or nationalist sentiment, being rooted at least partly in a colourful and irrational worldview referred to by some authors (although not Evola) as ‘Traditionalism’. Through him, Bannon, and so by extension Trump, were potentially ‘linked’ to much broader intellectual currents, with connections across everything from the abstractest metaphysics to the earthiest ecologism.
There existed, obscure but important scholars had long argued, a mystical ‘perennial philosophy’ of transcendent religiosity and social stratification that was simultaneously as ancient as origin myths and applicable to modern discontents. Over the centuries, this concept has attracted intellectuals as diverse as the 15th century humanist Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, and Brave New World author Aldous Huxley. Other than Evola, its best-known and most systematic modern exponents were two metaphysicians, the Frenchman René Guénon (1886-1951), and the Swiss Frithjof Schuon (1907-1998), who issued writings and launched initiatives that channeled underlying cultural gloom, and still resonate powerfully. Like Evola, Guénon did not use the term Traditionalism, but his writings are regarded as key texts.
As well as Bannon, ‘Traditionalist’ sympathies of some kind were avowed by, or detectable in, influencers outside America – Hungarian politician Gábor Vona, the Russian ideologue Aleksandr Dugin (whom Bannon met in 2018, and who was supposedly an influence on Putin), and the Brazilian writer, Olavo de Carvalho, credited with helping Jair Bolsonaro win the presidency in 2019. Beyond politics, the connections were even more diffuse, with well-known academics, artists and even King Charles III (when Prince of Wales), articulating Traditionalist tropes to combat anomie and materialism, and promote organic agriculture, small-scale economics, traditional arts, and interfaith dialogue. But did all these different things have anything in common other than root-and-branch discontent with a drably dispiriting status quo? What possible relevance could Traditionalists’ distaste for democracy, and even politics, have for determinedly populist politicians?
This is a long-standing area of interest for Oxford-educated Arabist, Mark Sedgwick, now professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at Aarhus University. His 2003 book, Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century, was the first to draw mainstream attention to Evola, Guénon, Schuon, and others dubbed or self-described as Traditionalists. He brings to this discussion special insight into Islamic influences on Traditionalism, from the inner ecstasies of Sufism to the academically distinguished elucubrations of the contemporary Iranian-American theologian, Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Along the way, he treats ably and interestingly of many subjects, from Hindu ideas about caste via 17th century theories of history to the trajectory of Western feminism, and analyses the influence of Jordan Peterson, whom he regards as a Traditionalist for the internet age.
Traditionalism is a catch-all sort of term, and its outcomes are so diverse it is difficult to discern much consistency at all. Had it not been for Bannon’s remark, it is hard to imagine many even noticing Traditionalism existed. Conceptual complexity could help account for Traditionalism’s apparent ascent; as the author notes, “That which is not easy to understand is not easy to deny”. Sedgwick also suggests that Guénon’s theories may be fundamentally flawed because based on early 20th century understandings of ‘the East’ which are now regarded as too colourful and generic, even condescendingly ‘Orientalist’. Evola’s more dynamic and Western-oriented variant is likewise a product of its time, suffused with Nietzschean contempt for Christianity, and the epochal pessimism of thinkers like Oswald Spengler (even though he criticized both). Sedgwick nevertheless treats it as a coherent corpus of thought, with much relevance for today.
The central element of all variants of Traditionalism is ‘perennialism’ – the notion that beneath all the exoteric differences of world religions there is a unifying ‘sacred order’ understood only by the deepest thinkers, although hazily intuitable by the masses, if only they can be detached from the trammels of modernity. This is not just a tradition, but the Tradition that unlocks all cosmologies, and renders the most impassioned theological and political disputes not just superficial, but almost risible. Traditionalist writings are predictably esoteric, aimed solely at a supposedly more spiritually attuned elite.
Traditionalists tend to be greatly interested in such things as hermetic philosophy, occultism, shamanism, and symbolism, and believe strongly in what the ethnomusicologist Benjamin R. Teitelbaum called “spiritual mobility” (see his 2020 book, War for Eternity). They regard 21st century preoccupations like equality, gender politics, individualism, material progress, and technology as mere aspects of modernity, harmful or simply inconsequential.
The second ingredient is a belief in cosmic circularity, as opposed to the ideas of inevitable linearity inherent in mainstream Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and so throughout modern politics. The world, in this reading, goes through ‘ages’ of decline that can be followed by renewal. An original golden age of unity and quality is ineluctably succeeded by silver, bronze and ultimately dark ages of increasingly mechanistic reductionism – what Guénon memorably called the “age of quantity” – after which the cosmic wheel turns back to the start.
‘Golden Age’ thinking is common to many civilizations, but there are especially close parallels with the four ages (Yugas) of Hinduism, with ‘Kali Yuga’ (the last, sin-filled age of conflict) a shorthand term for today among ‘Aryan’-interested Rightists. This process is almost irrespective of politics, although some theorists see an expeditious role for ‘disruptors’. Evola saw Fascism as a means of reconstituting the Roman Empire, and Bannon saw (and perhaps still sees) Trump as a kind of creative destroyer of consensus, but politics has been a lower priority for other Traditionalists, who concentrated instead on transformation through self-realization.
It may easily be imagined that Traditionalists are prone to eccentricity; for instance, Evola believed that ‘Aryans’ were descended from an ethereal Arctic race which had decayed as they came south. In the 1980s, a writer calling herself “Alice Lucy Trent” officiated in County Donegal over a small community called the Silver Sisterhood, which worshipped a female deity, sported Victorian clothing, and refused to use electricity. Trent later changed her name to “Miss Martindale”, and moved to Oxford, to found a movement called Aristasia in a modest terraced house, where ambiguous persons wearing dresses and veils would hold ultra-reactionary court in a candle-lit, gramophone-sounding interior, and be seen driving around town majestically in a 1950s car. It was part-pantomime, part-serious critique, at once amusing and interesting.
Sedgwick rues some Rightists’ co-option of some parts of Traditionalism. Indeed, perennialism can be hard to square with ideas about a “clash of civilizations”, or immigration, or belief in physical racial differences (which even Evola downplayed). He nevertheless examines their thinking with commendable fairness. He differentiates between genuinely traditional teachings about religion and society, which really can be millennia old, and 1920s-to-present-day attempts to turn some of these teachings into realities. For Sedgwick, whatever about the youthful Evola, by his late period he had become a “non-traditional Traditionalist”, and the Evolan phraseology deployed by some on today’s radical Right is therefore mostly “post-Traditionalism”.
But logical consistency matters little in politics, even metapolitics. Traditionalism may persist as a presence on the Right, if sometimes more symbolically than as substance. Traditionalists’ emphasis on arcane knowledge is intrinsically appealing to some who aspire to be elite leaders. There are also similarities in outlooks and temperaments between Traditionalists and some Rightists – shared perspectives on the manifold problems of modernity, shared detestation of bleak materialism, and shared love of grand and sweeping narratives. As the once world-bestriding West shivers in winnowing new winds, and mainstream conservatism flounders, the epic appeal of a mythical past (and implied enchanted future) seems likely to grow. Sedgwick’s second book on this too long neglected theme makes another significant contribution to what may be an expanding as well as evolving field.
Book Details: Mark Sedgwick, London: Pelican, 2023, hb., 410pps., £25
My thanks to John Morgan for invaluable input on this article.
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By themallard — 9 months ago
Many Conservatives have noticed a worrying trend in polling recently. YouGov suggests that support for the Monarchy is falling, especially among younger people. For the first time in British history 19-24 year olds apparently support having an elected head of state instead of a hereditary one. When combined with His Highness the Prince of Wales’s constantly mediocre approval ratings, a grim future seems to loom ahead of us. Many of my colleagues have dismissed these signs as unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps they are right, but I cannot help but be worried, and my worry has driven me to write this article in defence of Monarchy against the evil that haunts modern Britain: Republicanism.
In Britain, and I do not intend to comment on any other nation in this article, we have been ruled by Kings, Queens, and occasionally Emperors and Empresses, since written records began. Because of this it seems fair to regard Monarchy, in one form or another, as the native political system of the British peoples. Whilst our Monarchs have often been foriegn, the Throne has always been a native institution, never forced on us. The same cannot be said of Parliament, a Norman-French perversion of the Anglo-Saxon Witan. The only period where every part of Britain was not ruled by a Monarch was during Oliver Cromwell’s brief stint as Lord Protector during the interregnum, where he established himself as a hereditary Absolutist ruler, a King in all but name and legitimacy. As we all know, this unprecedented period was so terrible that after Cromwell’s death Charles Stuart, son of the previous King who Parliament murdered, was asked to come home from France and be Crowned King Charles II. The only time in history where Monarchy was abolished lasted a few short decades, and ended with Monarchy’s restoration.
I believe one of the most important reasons to defend Monarchy in Britain is because it is one of the few fully domestic institutions left. Indeed, it is the domestic institution, it acts as an immaterial liferope stretching back thousands of years, on one end it is held by our ancestors, and on the other end it is held by us today. Whilst in the past we may have had more ropes strung between us, none were as important as the Throne, and all others have been cut in the name of reform and progress. If we choose to let go we lose our last real connection to our forefathers, forcing us to drift aimlessly into the future like a raft untethered from a larger ship. Some would argue, of course, that just because a system is native does not necessarily lead to its being good and worth protecting. I admit that this is true in some cases; to the Aztecs human sacrifice was native, and so too was widow-burning native to the Indians. However, a system being native almost always acts as a reason in favour of its preservation, as it is these unique elements that make each nation recognisable against one another, or connects lands far apart which share common heritage. The Throne simultaneously differentiates us from our neighbours, whilst also ties us together with our friends in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and many other nations who share the Queen as their Head of State. Until Monarchy is proven completely rotten it must stay, for our ancestors sake as much as ours.
Many have already written on the economic benefits the Monarchy brings for Britain. I find these arguments boring and unconvincing. For example, they often imply that we should support abolition if the Monarchy cost more than it brought in, an idea I find abhorrent. Instead an argument I find far more convincing, and one I hope Republicans will struggle to argue against, is the fact that the Monarchy acts as a foundation for every law in the country. Britain is well known for our unwritten “constitution”. Instead of writing a single document to clarify everything from rights to how Parliament is to sit we simply use the laws that our fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers and so on wrote to settle these issues. If we find these laws no longer suit us, we pass new ones that supersede and replace them. I love this system. It grants us both flexibility and structure. Even if at times it can be confusing, it is uniquely ours. However, unlike in America where their constitution essentially derives its authority from itself, our beautiful tangled mess of a constitution is built on the firm foundation of the Monarchy. It is the only institution that was not founded by some law, rather each law gains its force and legitimacy from the Monarch themself. When one keeps this in mind, it seems impossible for Abolition to occur without also requiring huge constitutional reform. Trying to get rid of the Monarchy without upsetting our delicate Constitutional arrangement, like trying to remove a house’s foundations without causing the whole thing to collapse. It would not be enough to pass an amendment removing any mention of the Monarch from every law ever passed, the powers of the Monarch would have to be given to someone, and who does the general public trust with such immense power; Boris Johnson? Keir Starmer? The House of Commons? None of these people have proven themselves to be as prudent or farsighted as Her Majesty the Queen or any of her predecessors and none are worthy of the powers of State. Do you trust anyone to rewrite the entire British Constitution and not make a mess of it, or worse edit it in a way that benefits their party and their interests? You clearly shouldn’t, and the safest way to ensure they don’t is to fight to protect the Monarchy at all costs.
There are many points that I have failed to make in this article. Whether because I found them overdone or unconvincing, I have not written any argument that cannot in part explain my own personal devotion to our greatest institution, or why I will fight for its continuation until I draw my last breath. Such arguments can be found elsewhere, and perhaps I will write a more general ‘Monarchist Manifesto’ at a later date. I only hope to have contributed a few somewhat unique points in this extremely important debate.
God save the Queen.
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