Friday, November 02, 2007

Monarchy, constitutions and republicanism, pause

I was getting sidetracked. What began as a detailed explanation of the iniquity of monarchy started to move onto ground I find more interesting - how the radical political tradition was hijacked and perverted by the socialist left.

In fact, there's a very good case that socialism isn't left wing at all. The left originally favoured laissez-faire economic policies and free trade, for example. Today, that's a Liberal or libertarian position, and people normally call libertarianism "right wing" - even though the Tories remain mercantalists at heart.

The left was secular, but we have religious cultists in a Labour cabinet and socialist parties allying with extreme religious groups, while the Tories also remain wedded to the clerical establishment.

In other words, they're all right wing.

4 comments:

Super-Electro-whatever said...

The left originally favoured laissez-faire economic policies and free trade...

Yeah, until they found out it worked.

dearieme said...

We once came across a book about history, politics and such, written for young children by a Danish author of the early 1950s. Quite unselfconsciously, she pointed out that Monarchies were free, peaceful, successful countries while Republics, with only a few exceptions, were not. It's not often that a children's book has stuck in my mind like that.

Peter Risdon said...

That's a fair point, DM, but it's slightly tautological. If a country isn't peaceful... there's a revolution. I don't think it alters my assertion that monarchy is iniquitous. It's also true that on the whole, over the centuries, struggle against tyranny has been struggle against monarchies. Nor does it alter the point that nobody, not a monarch nor a democratic assembly or a premier, should have unlimited power.

dearieme said...

Yes, but you have to explain why in 1950 our Dane could point to the Socialist Republics - Nazi Germany, USSR, Mao's new China - huge slaughter machines. She could point to the dismal collapse of the French Republic, while the various British monarchies fought on - UK, Canada, etc. She would point, I presume, to the perpetually failed republics of Latin America. Meantime, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, NZ, Australia - far, far better than almost the whole of the rest of the world. Only the USA and Switzerland would be exempted from her scorn, had she been rude enough to express scorn. Of course, the real point is that you are tilting at windmills. The distinction that matters isn't between nominal republics and "monarchies", it's between, on the one hand, functioning republics, which includes the "crowned republics" of Scandinavia, the Low Countries, and the British and ex-British world, and the hellhole republics of much of the rest of the world. But still, if you want to make the case that monarchist Thailand is worse than Burma, or monarchical Malaysia than Indonesia, or even monarchist Japan than the Philipines, I'll watch with interest. But I think that you're just making a categorical error. Still, not as daft as the chap I read earlier this week who seemed to think that Her Majesty reigns by "divine right". Potty.