Saturday, June 2, 2007

Peter Tatchell and the Monarchy

Two score and fourteen years ago today, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was crowned.

Over at the Guardian, Peter Tatchell debunks the British Monarchy on the occasion.

Mr. Tatchell says:

[W]e democrats celebrate June 2 with a vision of what Britain could be: a democratic republic with an elected head of state, a representative of the nation who is chosen by us, the people.
Heard of H.L. Mencken? He is known to have said:
Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.
Mr. Tatchell further says:
Let's be clear about one thing: monarchy is incompatible with democracy.
And that is supposed to be an argument against it?!? Please do explain!

Mr. Tatchell goes on:
According to the elitist values of the monarchical system, the most stupid, immoral royal is more fit to be head of state than the wisest, most ethical commoner.
I keep forgetting the superb capability of modern democracy to choose the wise and the ethical. Please do forgive me!

Mr. Tatchell continues:
Monarchs get the job for life, no matter how appallingly they behave.
And Abraham Lincoln – the "log cabin" President – was reelected after having brought a terrible war – according to Wikipedia, in a landslide.

I'll take the kings and queens of old over modern politicians any day, and I'll take the monarchs of our time over politicians too. I recall what J.R.R. Tolkien so brilliantly has been quoted for saying:
My political beliefs lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) – or to 'unconstitutional' Monarchy ... Give me a king whose chief interest in life is stamps, railways, or race-horses; and who has the power to sack his Vizier (or whatever you care to call him) if he does not like the cut of his trousers.
Further down Mr. Tatchell says:
This enshrinement of bigotry is not surprising. After all, the monarchy is a relic of despotic feudal power - a left-over from an era of absolute power, where a supposed divinely-ordained ruler literally lorded it over the British people.
Absolute? If there ever was an absolute rule, it's that of modern parliaments. Mr. Tatchell seems to be in need of being reminded of something the great Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn said:
There are totalitarian and monolithic tendencies inherent in democracy that are not present even in a so-called absolute monarchy, much less so in a mixed government which, without exaggeration, can be called the great Western tradition.
There certainly isn't much left of a mixed government in the present day United Kingdom, but removing the remnants of it can hardly be moving in the right direction.

Moreover, Mr. Tatchell tells us:
The monarch still retains a number of anti-democratic reserve powers, including the powers to summon, prorogue and dissolve parliament. These powers could be crucial in sensitive or uncertain political circumstances. The prime minister's exercise of royal prerogatives requires royal approval. Such approval has never been withheld in modern times, but why should royal authority be necessary in the first place?
Please do tell us why not, sir! Why is your pathetic belief in the sanctity of popular rule so great? Please do tell us!

Mr. Tatchell questions further:
Likewise, The Queen has to give her royal assent to every bill passed by parliament, before it can become law. Even if this is only symbolic, why should the monarch have this power at alI?
Why not?

He continues:
In the event of a hung parliament, The Queen will make the crucial decision as to which party leader to call to form a government - a highly-charged decision with huge political ramifications.
And the point is?

Furthermore, Mr. Tatchell tells us:
The monarch can also dismiss an elected government.
Oh?!? That's scary!!! There actually is a check on the popular power. Now, we can't have that, can we?

Mr. Tatchell goes on further down:
I favour a low-cost, purely ceremonial, elected president, like the German and Irish presidents. This would ensure that the people are sovereign, not the royals.
And ensure absolutely no brake on popular sovereignty – or to be more precise, rule of the representatives of the mob. Thank you! I am really relieved!

Mr. Tatchell concludes:
It would give us the most important safeguard of all: if we don't like our head of state, we can elect a new one.
Most important safeguard of all?!? Yes! Where is your proof, sir? If it is so obvious that this is the most important safeguard, I should be able to see that, right? But I don't. So where are your substantial arguments?

God save Her Britannic Majesty! Long may she reign over the United Kingdom and her other Realms!

1 comment: said...

Mr. Tatchell's article clearly demonstrates the appropriateness of the oft-quoted adage: "A little learning is a dangerous thing." For whilst he has managed to grasp the simple realities of the mechanical operation of the British constitution he clearly has little comprehension or understanding of the significance of the royal prerogative and the all-important philosphical and intellectual reasoning behind it.