With all of the obsessive coverage of the birth of the “royal baby” let me say what should be obvious: the monarchy should not exist. No monarchy should exist anywhere for any reason. And while this article goes too far — I certainly wouldn’t put the royal family in prison — and overstates the case, there is still validity there.
The Royal Family is no better than a family of mobsters. It sucks its sustenance from the public coffers, enriching itself greatly at the expense of poor taxpaying citizens. It operates not as a meritocracy, but through strict nepotism and strategic alliances. And its strength is a rough measure of the lack of civilization in a particular culture. To be completely clear, we are not suggesting that people should “pay less attention” to the Royal Family, or that the UK should reduce the amount of money it spends on this obscene relic of a brutal monarchical past. We are suggesting that the Royal Family should, as an institution, be completely abolished, and that its remaining members be imprisoned and forced to work for the remainder of their lives to, in some token way, repay the public for all of these years of financial support. Perhaps by making license plates, or breaking rocks.
It is amusing to reflect upon the imperial past of England, and the inherent assumptions of racial and cultural superiority that fueled it, while also noting the fact that the UK still to this very day continues to offer slavish financial, political, and cultural support to a tiny family elite notable for nothing except the lineage of the particular person’s vagina from which they slunk. The persistence of the Royal Family, and the worshipful attention that it draws from the British public, is the sort of primitive superstitious voodoo that puts to shame any of the animist rituals that the colonial British would have derided as uncivilized.
The Royal Family is more than an international embarrassment, though; it is a crime against the British public. It represents the taking of precious public resources for the most undemocratic, elitist, and unproductive use. It is akin to taxing the American public to support the Kardashian family. Currently, the British monarchy gets 15% of the annual revenues generated by the Crown Estate. (Not to be confused with the slew of luxurious private estates that they own.) That will be well over $50 million this year. There are 2.5 million unemployed people in the UK right now. It is not too presumptuous to suggest that they might be able to find more productive uses for that money.
Many Brits have argued to me that the nation derives tax revenue from the royal family and that much of that revenue comes from Americans (including some very dear friends of mine) who, for some reason I will never understood, also share this obsession with the royal family. That may well be true. But that doesn’t make the idea of a royal family any less offensive. I am especially baffled by friends who are liberals and still defend it. If there is anything that should be offensive and appalling to a liberal, it’s monarchy.
And let me address Larry Moran’s suggestion that making this criticism makes one an “ugly American.” He was responding to PZ writing much the same thing, but I think he misses the point completely.
I don’t mean to pick on PZ Myers—he’s just one of many seemingly intelligent people who think that the American system of government is far superior to the governments of countries like the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia, Jordan, Spain, Sweden, Malaysia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark.
But he’s wrong. This isn’t about comparing systems of governments on some macro scale, it’s about criticizing one particular aspect of them. And aren’t we always told by those defending such monarchies that they’re merely for show and don’t have any real power?
There’s a certain irony in this statement since Americans are fond of celebrating babies born into extraordinary privilege, especially if they are movie stars.
But where is the irony here? It isn’t as if PZ or me think that’s a good thing. I think it is every bit as ridiculous for people to obsess over Kim Kardashian or Snooki, two people who have also become fabulously rich with no actual talent to justify it, as it is to obsess over the royal family. Is it irony merely that an American makes this argument, even if he also criticizes similar things in his own country? Is that irony or is it intellectual consistency?
This is not about comparing political systems or societies as a whole. There are good things and bad things that can be said about every system and every culture. England is well ahead of the United States in many ways, including having a parliamentary system, which I’d like to see here. Despite their established church, religion has far less influence on policy there than it does here. They’re more friendly to the rights of the LGBT community as well. On the other hand, their free speech protections are lacking, in my view.
None of this is cultural chauvinism or any feeling of American superiority (I’m pretty much immune to feelings of nationalism, which I simply do not understand), it is reasoned criticism of those aspects of the British system that should be reformed and justified praise of those aspects that are good. The same kind of praise and criticism I offer for my own country and my own government every single day.