Monarchy (value of)

Analysis of political issues across the world

Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Paul » 23 Jul 2013, 08:44

I knew it. The BBC are endlessly discussing what the situation would be if the child had been a girl, or so I've been told. Probably on the breakfast programme.
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Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Gavin » 23 Jul 2013, 08:51

Grant - it is slightly strange but then the Queen seems to get far more love from foreigners than she does from those at home! The Americans especially, who fought so hard for independence, can't get enough of our royals.

They are just figureheads now and it is just a continuity tradition that many seem to miss when they get rid of it. Usually some socialist dictator like Oliver Cromwell steps in instead.

I doubt if the Queen cares about the cricket but still I take your point and commonwealth countries should be free to vote not to have our royals, even if they regret that decision later.

How does having this ancestral Queen in England "diminish" Australia? Didn't a lot of Australians come from here? Does she have any executive power over Australia? Do most Australians feel as you do? I suppose so. I suppose this is an issue that divides people: some are fond of connections with their ancestral homeland, while some want complete independence.
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Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Gavin » 23 Jul 2013, 09:02

Paul wrote:The BBC are endlessly discussing what the situation would be if the child had been a girl, or so I've been told.


I am actually not going to watch any of the "talking heads" because I'm a man and not especially interested in the topic of childbirth and babies, but as I said I'm still happy socialists are going to be faced with this everywhere they go. The BBC did their obligatory reporting last night, through gritted teeth it seemed - they finished as soon as they could so we switched over to ITV where the the report was about 20 mins longer. (As I said, I am at another address at the moment - I don't pay for a TV license at my own home.)

I'm happy it was a boy though, just to spite the sexist feminists. Deep inside every feminist there is probably a desire for a baby and indeed for a happy relationship with a strong man - a rock to their mental chaos. But they are so messed up they denied themselves that and instead of seeking therapy they went on rants and indoctrinated at least two generations of women with terrible effect upon the family and society at large. They deserve their loneliness in my view and I do hope young girls learn as they see these feminists age today.
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Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Charlie » 23 Jul 2013, 09:47

Gavin wrote:...but as I said I'm still happy socialists are going to be faced with this everywhere they go.


That reminds me of one of Frank Chalk's blogposts about the jubilee last year. If I may, I'll quote it here - it's very good:

Whilst waiting for a train the other day I overheard two girls, probably in their early twenties, talking about how they were going to some anti-Jubilee protest. I had no idea that any were planned, so I listened with interest. They were complaining bitterly that the Royal Family had been born into privilege, had never had to work and shouldn't be given our money.

The irony of the situation was lost on them. They were both British- ie lucky enough to be born into the top 5% of the World's wealth, with opportunities available for the taking that a Chinese peasant or an African farmer can only dream of. Through no talent of their own, they had managed to exist in an era of unprecedented wealth, with free healthcare and a social security safety net that have been available for about 60 out of the last million years. They had enough money to travel by train and were well dressed in comparison with the average Eastern European, South American (or for that matter- me). One had an iPhone and the other had a tattoo and some ironmongery in her face.

These things require disposable income, as did their takeaway drinks from Costa Coffee. The majority of the Earth's people do not have a single penny to spend  on anything but survival and even the concept of having 'free time' to attend a protest, ie being rich enough not to have to dedicate every waking moment to work, preparing a meal or bringing up children, must seem an almost unbelievable concept.

I did not discover whether they actually paid any taxes or not, as my attention was distracted by a prettier group of women arriving on the platform, babbling about their Jubilee Party. Whether we can draw any conclusions from their relative attractiveness, I do not know.
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Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Gavin » 23 Jul 2013, 10:17

Great post - I had not heard of Frank Chalk.

"Whether we can draw any conclusions from their relative attractiveness, I do not know."

We probably can.

The royals arguably do do a lot of work too. They're the public face of the country. One of the lads is in the army (front line sometimes, although he perhaps does not seem as sensible or likeable as his brother) while the other conducts helicopter rescue. Re. the women, as people know here, I do not think any women should be obliged to work more than part-time, in support roles, anyway, but it must be tiring to be constantly going to hospitals, orphanages, state meals, and everywhere else they have to go, always smiling, always being scrutinised, damned if they do and if they don't, shaking thousands of hands, constantly flying etc.

There's probably a lot of personal envy in this (combined with ignorance), as is usual from socialists, especially from the women.
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Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Grant » 23 Jul 2013, 11:16

Gavin, symbols are powerful in their ability to unite, divide, motivate and even distress. The birth of a little boy yesterday proved that. His entry into the world, in the grand scheme of things, should receive the same celebration as every other child born whenever and wherever but he symbolises something intangible you and your compatriots cherish.
The symbolism that distresses me as an Australian is the extent to which my country still clings to the imperial apron strings. Our money has the image of the British sovereign. In our courts when people are put on trial they symbolically face the Queen as their adversary. Our so-called head of state is appointed by the Queen. The greatest insult of all is the fact we have the British flag as part of our flag.
I compare the relationship between Britain and Australia to that between a parent and child. Yes, Britain was the mother country but it's now time for the child to be prepared to stand alone and embark on a new phase of the relationship where both are equals. All good parents eventually realize their children will cope without them. I hope I've raised my children to be strong, independent people who don't need to constantly defer to their parents. I also hope one day, the majority of Australians and British will feel similarly.
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Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Caleb » 25 Jul 2013, 01:33

Grant: I am somewhat ambivalent about the Monarchy. Amongst my British blood, I have German and French ancestry, so I'm probably somewhere between 50% and 75% British by ancestry. That will make my children less than 50% British. It is hard, in a sense, to explain why so many people in Australia should care about Britain or British traditions. Yet I think it is no small accident that modern Australia is what it is, rather than a basket case like many (or most) former colonies of other European powers. Perhaps we can't so obviously see the steady hand of the Britain of yesteryear (because in many ways, who would want to latch onto the modern Britain of Tony Blair and David Cameron?) even in this day, but it's probably there still, even if they merely set it in motion. The Americans went their own way and created their own institutions, but they also had to fight a war to do so, and their system is not perfect -- the Civil War showed that. We've never had to do any of that and we've never overreacted in these matters. Rather than seeing ourselves as tied to the apron strings of a modern nation, why not think of all of us (including modern Brits!) as being descended from something better from a different age?

Perhaps we could indeed keep the good and do away with all the unnecessary things. I guess. It probably wouldn't make much difference in many ways, though I don't think it's always so easy to just do away with something and manufacture a cultural replacement. Culture doesn't quite work that way. I just don't see it as the affront that many people do. In fact, there's something nice, I think, about being part of the Commonwealth.

As far as the flag goes, I actually worry about how the British flag will look if/when Scotland leaves the Union, though perhaps we could actually keep the Union Jack precisely as a nod to better times and our heritage, even if Britain (minus Scotland) changes its flag. Regardless, I actually think our flag looks quite good right now. It's one of the best of the flags with the Union Jack in the corner. Some of the others have too much stuff going on. One of the fears I would have is that we'd replace it with something garish. Not necessarily, as the Canadians have a quite splendid flag, I think. Yet I can't help feeling we'd end up with something pretty garish. A lot of the more modern flags have gone that way, probably in part to stand out from the mass of flags with red, white and blue on them, and probably because they haven't grasped that there's a very good reason why so many flags have some combination of red, white and blue rather than orange, purple and brown. I think a garish flag would be indicative of something in the society itself, and perhaps in our attempts to not be British we would throw the baby out with the bathwater in many other ways too. The flag might end up being emblematic of that.

As for money, whose faces would end up on the bills or coins? I'd hope we'd have the good sense not to put any ex-politicians' mugs on them. Yet selecting the replacements might be a politically loaded task. You'd hope they'd put scientists or something of the sort on there, but you know the leftie crowd would have a fit at even that and we'd end up with a trans-gendered de-constructionist Aboriginal poet instead. We'd probably end up with Germaine Greer on at least one! Or we'd be just as likely to go the other way and end up with David Boon, Shane Warne or the latest winner of Australian Idol instead! Bert Newton. That's who we'd have. Perish the thought!

I think the question always needs to be what the alternative would be. I see our current crop of politicians -- on both sides of Parliament -- as being thoroughly untrustworthy, self-serving, egotistical careerists. Ironically, the Queen, all that distance away and largely uninvolved and disinterested, probably does more good for the country, or rather less harm (which is just as good).

Julia Gillard was only PM for a few years, and yet she is going to go out on a pension of about a quarter of a million dollars or more per year (index linked, too), plus travel expenses. We currently have six living ex-PMs, if I recall correctly. They alone surely cost us more than the Queen, not to mention all of the carnage they caused whilst in government, and not to mention the fact that many can't just go gracefully into retirement. The Queen at least has the good grace to keep her mouth shut. It's extremely hard to believe that a president would be any less ego-driven than any of our recent PMs or other high ranking MPs. Ironically, perhaps the best thing American libertarians could push for would be the re-adoption of the Queen because she couldn't be as bad as their current and recent presidents!

I figure that if it's not broken, don't fix it.
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Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Grant » 25 Jul 2013, 11:59

Caleb, the philosophy of not fixing things if they're not broken would still have us living in caves and regarding wheels as unnecessary. I staunchly believe in excellence and reward for talent and effort hence regard unearned privilege as an anathema. Any royal family is the perpetuation of a crime. The kings of old only got to wear their crowns because they were more ruthless, cunning and devoid of principles and did away with competitors with alacrity. They were not invested by God or the people. They took power and used whatever means to retain their power. They then sought to legitimize their power with ceremony and invocations of a divine right to rule. When one looks at the sad history of the British royal family it is a lurid account of murder, lust, double standards and greed. The death of Edward II via a red hot poker inserted into his rectum is a case in point. The infidelities of Charles II and Edwards VII & VIII highlight the hypocrisy of the public face of royalty. Prince Charles' unfaithfulness hardly would equip him to be the leader of the Church of the England but such behaviour has been conveniently swept under the carpet. For all these reasons I would prefer Australia not to be connected to a system and concept that promote and entrench inequality and reward a bunch singularly devoid of talent. Sorry, the current lot do display some minor strengths - the ability to wave at large crowds and engage in meaningless chit chat. They'd probably be unemployable in the real world!
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Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Caleb » 30 Jul 2013, 03:01

Grant: Science and engineering are different matters to politics. Progress in the former is pretty obvious and easily measured, but progress in the latter is more difficult to assess. Do you believe that we have progressed politically? I don't entirely believe that we have. Once again, I would urge you to consider what we would get if we simply replaced something for the sake of being progressive. Human nature hasn't changed. You would still get people who were willing to climb over others for power. That will probably never change. Careerist politicians do not necessarily represent excellence in anything other than hatchet jobs and back room deals.

As for the privilege of the royal family, an earlier post by someone else (maybe another thread to this, I can't remember) actually addressed this, but I will reiterate. By being born in Australia, any Australian is born into immense privilege simply by accident of birth. This land was invaded/stolen by previous generations, and much of the wealth may have been acquired through ill-gotten means. Furthermore, much of the great infrastructure and many of the public institutions were built by previous generations not connected to any living today, and those things were built or founded under the system you so despise.

I have no issues with inherited wealth or position if they are largely ceremonial. I think it's a bit silly for us, living as we do probably within the top 5% of the world's population, and probably within the top 1% of the world's population throughout all of history to single out the British monarchy as having undeserved privilege. Would you give all the land in Australia back to aborigines or open the flood gates to the world's poor? If not, why not, in light of what you have written about privilege?
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Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Grant » 30 Jul 2013, 10:46

Caleb, I read recently the argument against inherited anything. Would you fly in plane with a pilot who was given the job just because his mother or father was one? Would you submit to a brain surgeon whose only qualifications were his father had been one? I believe we (mankind in general) have progressed in many aspects, one of these being universal suffrage. Democracy might have its faults but at least if we're silly enough to vote in some nin-compoops we can get rid of them in a few years. With the monarchy they've got the job for life or if the people decide to take matters into their hands as the French did - always messy! On your point of everyone in Australia benefiting from the privileges of the past, any benefits passed on have had a democratic spread to them. There has been no act of parliament to divert millions to one particular family just because they are who they are. It would be like holding an Olympic Games but awarding gold medals to one group not on their ability but because of a belief they should get preferential treatment over everyone else. Stupid! I'll finish by relying on that most human of beings - Mark Twain - who said "There never was a throne which did not represent a crime." and "The institution of royalty in any form is an insult to the human race."
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Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Yessica » 30 Jul 2013, 11:07

Interesting discussion.

I am not English and not sure how I think about the royal family. I mostly pity them because I think they have been born into a life-time of service and there is no way for them to get out of this.
This little boy has few choices about his life. For example he does not have the choice to stay childless, or to become a construction worker, or to marry a black woman.

As for monarchy. I think the question should not be: Is it fair? but: Does the English people benefit from it. If the people does benefit it is a good thing however unfair. To my mind your people does benefit. Think of the tourists. Thinks of the symbolism that unites the people.

Same with taking away the lands from the aborigines. It was unfair, but still the aborigines benefit from living in one of the worlds riches countries today.
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Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Paul » 31 Jul 2013, 02:05

Who's bothered about what Mark Twain said? I've instantly gone off him now, not that I ever consider him from one blue moon to the next.. What does he know about royalty anyway, he never lived under it?

The analogy with the brain surgeon or airline pilot is a poor one, because nobody would be suggesting the royal family or anyone else on a hereditary basis should ever undertake those skilled tasks. Though I do believe William can fly a helicopter!

The assertion the royal family couldn't get a job 'in the real world' ...... well are we really to say the royal family are unintelligent, uneducated and incapable? They couldn't work anything out? Frankly, that's just ridiculous and you don't really believe it anyway.

Besides, our Queen drove ambulances through London during the blitz.
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Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Elliott » 31 Jul 2013, 03:04

This thing about the Royal Family being unintelligent, untalented etc. is a well-known jibe. In my humble opinion, it is ridiculous. We don't need the Royal Family to be intelligent or talented: we need them simply to be the Royal Family and to act and behave accordingly. They are supposed to represent not only our nation, but the best of our nation. That's the point of them.

Now of course some of them fail to do that, but this does not negate the overall point.

Likewise, if their origins are blood and war... so what? The origins of every republic is blood and war. The origins of every country is blood and war. Good results have come of these beginnings. To keep pointing at the origin, centuries later when everything has moved on and the societal narrative has evolved, is not helpful.

As for unearned privilege, everything that one is born with, or given freely by one's parents, is an unearned privilege. If you don't believe in unearned privilege, don't put effort into getting your kids a good education, and don't do anything else for them that some chav hasn't done for his kids. And don't leave anything in your will to your kids or anyone else who hasn't earned it. I'm joshing, of course. My point is that unearned privilege is absolutely a fact of life. I realise there's a difference when it comes to a monarchy, but I think one would really be throwing the baby out with the bathwater by getting rid of the monarchy on the basis of their unearned privilege.

One useful effect of having a monarch is that it allows a people to identify themselves - or see themselves identified - by something other than a politician. An unelected monarch might not be elected, but an elected politician is only elected. Precisely by being elected, he shows himself to be flesh and blood, a game player, just a guy on the street, a tactician and strategist, somebody whose appointment relied on me and you and other earthly fallen creatures, somebody locked in the here and now. This pricks the balloon of all pomp and ceremony, all attempts at transcendence. What is worse is that, if the elected leader is not counterbalanced by a monarch, then he is the only figurehead by which the people can identify themselves. Small wonder, then, that European republics (and the US) place such faith in their elected leaders - see Obama the Messiah, or for that matter Hitler the Fuhrer - whereas we in Britain place no faith whatsoever in our Prime Minister. We even expect him to fail; we treat him with the suspicion and latent contempt that all politicians probably deserve. If he messes up or betrays us, we are psychologically insulated from his treachery because we never identified ourselves with him.

There is something transcendent about a monarchy that I think a republic simply cannot emulate. A monarchy acknowledges that people are not all equal, and at the same time that they are not merely intelligent animals. I don't want to live in a society that defines Man's highest achievement as becoming a really good technician, or a really good plumber, or a really good gym instructor. Of course those things are important, and of course excellence should be appreciated*, but we need more. We are not machines.

* "Excellence should be rewarded" is the common phrasing by anti-monarchists and meritocrats. I find this a rather incomplete idea. Should somebody with a natural talent be rewarded simply for being born with that talent? But they haven't done anything to deserve it, have they?

Also, the execution of Edward II by red hot poker is probably untrue.
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Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Caleb » 31 Jul 2013, 03:29

Grant: The monarchy are of symbolic value though. We're not living centuries ago when they actually had any influence over politics. You're constructing a straw man in that respect. Any supposed role they play is rubber stamped. Even the Governor General gets approved by the PM at the time, and the new PM gets approved by the Governor General, so it's a feedback loop. People go on and on about the dismissal of the Whitlam government as though 1) the government wasn't inept to begin with and would have been pushed no matter who had held the check to their power, 2) Kerr hadn't been appointed by Whitlam anyway! The point is that if you replaced this system with something else, you'd still need checks and balances. Ask any person from any country and they will tell you that their own systems have faults. Ask any American and they will go on endlessly about the President or the SCOTUS.

Appealing to democracy doesn't make sense anyway. Did you vote for half the people who run the public service, the armed forces or anything else? No, they were appointed. You might argue that those appointments are based upon merit, to which I would reply that that's not how it works. There are jobs for the boys and all the rest of it. Even political parties have all sorts of factional deals, people parachuted into safe seats from unions and all the rest of it.

As I have already written, I am not particularly impressed with the current crop of politicians on either side of Parliament. I don't think more of the same is the solution. Would you really want an American style president and all the nonsense that entails? Who would you hold up as their great presidents of the past fifty years? Kennedy was up to his eyeballs in corruption and scandal. It was an open secret that he was having an affair with Marilyn Monroe on the side and then there are things like Chappaquiddick. That whole clan was up to its eyeballs in nonsense, and yet that one was considered a contender for the top job at one point, and ended up becoming an elder statesman besides. Then there was all the way with LBJ. How about Tricky Dicky, and so on, right down the line? Or perhaps you'd prefer any of the French presidents, past or present?

I also take a much dimmer view of democracy and the abilities, knowledge or interest of the average voter. Before we even get down to understanding policies and all the rest of it, how many people in Australia could even name 1) their representative on local government, 2) their representative and senators at state level (I know Queensland has a unicameral system), 3) their representative and senators at federal level? Can you? I can't, and couldn't even when I lived in Australia. You're making out like the Queen is some sort of heavy handed tyrant and also that our great democracy functions so well. It's not that black and white.
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Re: Monarchy (value of)

Postby Grant » 31 Jul 2013, 07:55

Ok, folks! I've a busy evening in front of me with other commitments so will answer Paul's critique first and if time permits answer the others. Paul, when you and I are not even footnotes to history in about 100 years from now, people will still refer to the thoughts of Samuel Clemens. The reason for this is his ability to cut through the cant and hypocrisy. He was a genius and understandably his thoughts resonate with intelligent people. I'm sorry you feel about him the way you do about him but you are very much in the minority. Your response to my brain surgeon analogy only shows the paucity of any argument in favour of royalty. Pilots, brain surgeons and every other profession exist in the real world. If royalty is not part of this real world then how about we ask the Disney corporation to build a palace in their many complexes and install the royals to be looked and waved at? Regarding the intelligence of royals, could you cite any anything a royal has said or done that has contributed to the world's intellectual capital? It is we non-royals who are the doers, the movers and shakers of this world. Your final comment about Queen Elizabeth driving ambulances during World War II is a curious one. Is it meant to conjure an image of a woman of the people or is it an indicator of her ability? I've met a number of garbage men who demonstrated a similar mechanical ability but they're not fawned upon and their off-spring do not garner special treatment.
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