Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

Hello! I am writing to you from my computer! I am not a) getting ready to party in the streets, b) watching The Event on the internet, c) watching The Event on TV, d) camping outside The Event or otherwise demonstrating myself to be a good forelock-tugger. I am instead blogging about The Event, but not in the adoring way expected of one of Her Majesty’s loyal subjects.

The Event being, of course, the Royal Wedding. My criticisms run deep and will probably run on for a few dozen paragraphs. Let’s start with one very fundamental criticism.

The instution of the monarchy. Historically, I know why we have it (groups of people gathering more and more land, leader of those groups getting more and more power, finally calls himself (generally was ‘he’) King. Then one group becomes more and more powerful and replaces the monarchy of the other groups to that one group’s monarchy. Fairly simple. What I don’t understand is why we still have it.

This is the 21st century. We have spent centuries advancing the cause of democracy, forcing it on our colonies, advocating for it, believing in it. I believe in it. Rule by the people is in my opinion the only fair way of running things. The only way that ensures that everyone has a voice and should, if properly executed, ensure that those voices are heard. Elsewhere in the world, people are fighting and dying for it, today, now. And yet we still have a monarch. We still have a fossil of the days when one person held the lives of many in the palm of their hand, crushing and killing, in our political system. The monarch may not have much ‘true’ political power, but we still have one. And while we’re talking of power, the Royal Family do have power.

They have the power to oppress. They have the power to command the eyes and ears of the world. They are sent out on diplomatic missions. They have the power to command crowds, to leech our money away from us. That’s power.

They have no place in a country that dares to call itself democratic. They do not earn their huge wealth – they sit on the previous generations’ wealth, plundered with inhumanity and brutality from other corners of the world, and are awarded more of the people’s money. Abolish the monarchy, even with pensioning off one or two of them, and I imagine that most of our financial woes would be temporarily ended.

The institution is oppressive in its self. The only reason Queen Elizabeth II currently holds the throne is her parents’ lack of a CAMAB offspring. Sexism. And do you think that if an heir to the throne turned out to be non-cis (binary or non-binary) their role would be adjusted, their self would be respected? I don’t think so. Perhaps some have, and that’s why we don’t know about it. Catholics – and presumably any other non-Protestant/person who doesn’t mind pretending – are barred from taking the throne. I doubt anyone who isn’t straight, cis, white, conventionally able/appearing so or who lacks privilege in any other sphere would be allowed into public life, or kept out of the pillary if they found themselves there.

Besides this, the English monarchy forced its authority onto its colonies through force of arms, through brainwashing, through the eradication of cultures. Talking about my own situation, my country’s monarchs were deposed and often killed by their ancestors, and while I would hope that our own monarchs would have been deposed in favour of a democracy by now I resent that they were replaced by the authority of those who tried to wipe out our culture, damn near succeeded and may yet. I would imagine that English colonies and ex-colonies feel similar, having had their autonomy, nationhood and often culture assaulted, wounded, often killed – generally more severely than my own – on the orders of the English monarchy.

And now onto the specific wedding-related critique.

It’s all joy and everything over this marriage. He’s a Prince, she’s a commoner – although in my book, if she’s common I really wish I was – they’ve been together for years, with a couple of break-ups – so modern, isn’t it?-… it’s the stuff of the modern kyriarchy’s dreams. She’s just common enough to give an illusion of progress, but all the basics are unchanged. Think about it. There’s still the oppressive institution. The power differential reinforces the privilege differences between women and men. She’s still rich. Her self has been subsumed in the coverage beneath the weight of custom and royalty worship. They’re straight. They’re white. They’re cis. They’re conventionally able. Etc. Privilege! The joys of a privileged and a super-hyper-privileged person getting married! What would happen if he wanted to marry a man? Or if she had less privilege? One acquaintance of mine said, ‘They’d say, ‘Hey, why don’t you go live in Switzerland?’ and try to silence the papers.’ I imagine that would be at least somewhat true.

And who is paying for this? Us.

Us. We, who are suffering from the effects of a recession and the draconian cuts inflicted upon us by an overprivileged, contemptuous, capitalist Government – we are paying for the festivities of a monstrously rich institution that was not chosen by us. We didn’t choose to foot the bill. And a bank holiday has been declared, a day of wages that many people will lose, that will seriously impact on many people’s lives.

I am fed up with having it shoved in my face. I am fed up of knowing that resources earned by the people are fueling this extravaganza of forelock-tugging, pomp and privilege. I am fed up with the adulation being poured out to a group of utterly undeserving, overprivileged people who have often shown themselves bigoted, oppressive and awful. I am fed up of the adoration being directed towards an institution with so much blood on its hands.

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Great, spent the last half an hour reading gloomy forecasts in the week’s papers for the economy (I got behind on my paper readings). NHS might need a top-up. Inflation going to fuck us all over. Savers being short-changed. Pensioners ditto. Unemployment set to continue rising. Meanwhile, certain MPs’ expenses rules are relaxed, Nick Clegg and David Cameron can’t find anything to disagree on and newspapers condemn the outrage over the cuts. Mr Clegg, if you are finding nothing to disagree with Mr Cameron on, you are doing quite a lot wrong.

But anyway. Outrage against the cuts. It’s justified. They are going to score themselves deeply into the fabric of our society, breaking threads, breaking lives. Already we’re feeling their bite. We – the general population of the UK. Not the absurdly privileged folks flexing their claws without noticing where they cut.

What has to be realised is that these cuts are not happening into a vacuum. They are happening into a social structure that already privileges some folks over others – so as the monetary freeze sets in, it will be the ones already on the outside who will suffer the most from frostbite. People’s existing prejudices will ensure that. So it’s not a case of everyone giving a little bit. It’s a case of the ones with much giving little, and the ones with little giving much.

And can we get through to the people in and around governance that a Government’s job should be the good of its people? We need to move past the outdated idea that was already being condemned in Britain in the bloody 18th/19th century that the job of a Government is to benefit the capital of a country, essentially benefitting the capitalists of a country. And who is going to be hurt by these cuts that are coming too deep, too close, too fast? The majority of the people who are not rich. Who is going to be barely affected? The rich. And they still moan.

I think that paragraph is wishful thinking, because we can’t get through to the Government at all. It seems to me that they haven’t listened – they’re not listening – they don’t care, as long as they keep their power and their money. And that scares me a lot. Democracy = rule by the people. Not rule by tricking the people.

Who voted? Who didn’t? Who voted Lib Dem, little knowing they were going to throw their lot in with the Tories? Who voted Tory?

We don’t know. That’s the essence of a secret ballot vote, a thing that is vital for democracy.

But now, in this early winter, we’re sitting here wondering – who let them in? Who let them in, let them plonk themselves down and block us away from the fire? It can’t have been just the elite. There’s not enough of them to make a difference. So that means that some of those of us now shivering in the dark, cold wasteland beyond the hearth voted for them. Or perhaps, voted for a party that couldn’t challenge them.

There are problems with our democracy. The First Past the Post system ensures ‘majority government,’ which increases stability but not true representation. It turns most places into two-party states (yeah, I know we currently have three…) and means that voters tend to vote for the party or candidate with whom they disagree the least, to stop those that they really object to getting in. In reality, this means that a Government can reflect very little of the views of the populace.

That leads to political apathy. I hate them all, why should I damn well bother voting for any of the bastards? And then we get this situation, where people that the majority of voters didn’t want get in… and screw us. Is that really democracy?