Is the Monarchy Next?


At the end of June Tony Blair stepped down as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, leaving the office to Gordon Brown.

One of the features of the Blair regime was constitutional reform, notably reform of the House of Lords. Also, civil liberties have been curtailed under Blair. Philip Johnston, in an award-winning essay, describes this quite well.

There is a petition for restoring a hereditary House of Lords, which may be signed by British subjects and residents (overseas territories, Crown dependencies, and Sovereign Base Areas included, but Commonwealth Realms excluded).

It is of course important to remember that the House of Lords has been an emasculated institution for quite a while. The chamber basically lost its absolute veto in 1911 — with the Parliament Act of that year. While the monarch still has quite extensive formal powers, the same basically goes for Her Britannic Majesty. The state expands to ever-higher levels of size and reach, and modern tyranny marches on, to an extent that one wonders whether these royal powers ever will be exercised.

Charles A. Coulombe noted a while ago:

[M]onarchies have lost much of their ability to serve their people through acceptance of the myth that the politicians really do speak for the people — or for that matter, that whatever the majority of the people want at any given time ought to be given preference over objective right and wrong.

If a check is to be a check, the least one should expect is the check to be protected when attempted removed by those who are to be checked. When checks on politicians can be removed unilaterally by those same politicians, they hardly qualify as checks.

That said, it is hard to see how things will get better by formally emasculating the British monarch. Judging by reports of the Daily Express, there seems to be a drive for continued constitutional reform, including ending formal powers of Her Britannic Majesty. While the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949 were part of a greater development towards "power of the people," they were relatively speaking basically isolated events constitutionally. There seems now to be a quite constant drive for ridding the British system of everything "archaic."

The United Kingdom was on the winning side of World War I and was spared Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self-determination at that crossroad. The British Empire only really started falling in the aftermath of World War II. The United Kingdom had come far in the process of modern democracy even in the summer of 1914. Wilsonian mass democracy was, however, never formally imposed on the kingdom. Some may say it is perhaps time it was. One could wonder whether these are sadists or masochists.

I would rather be a subject of old than a citizen of a modern, Wilsonian, mass democracy. It is true that we have had progress over the years, but democracy belongs in the decline category.

Those who believe that the transition from monarchy to democracy represents progress need serious educational doses of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, and Bertrand de Jouvenel.

Among the main vices of democracy are:

  • the buying of votes for other people’s money
  • the illusion that we rule ourselves
  • everything is up for grabs by every single ambitious demagogue

The democracy we have today is tyranny of the popular majority. No, it is not even that. It is tyranny of the representatives of the popular majority. No, not even that. It is tyranny of those representatives who happen to have gotten the majority according to the procedural rules of the elections. Well, that is if we assume that everything goes by the book.

It is often claimed that democracy has evolved because people have become more and more mature. With the state of affairs today, in particular with the growth of government in size and reach, this maturity is highly disputable. What is not so disputable is that democracy evolved because wars, revolutions, and political battles were fought, and modern democracy eventually emerged as the victor.

Often it is argued that monarchy belongs in the past. Some are sickly obsessed with monarchy being a symbol of tyranny. It might then be fitting to ask who is stuck in the past; those who are obsessed with the excesses of monarchs of old and with monarchy being a symbol of past "lording it over the people" or those who are concerned with modern tyranny.

It remains to be seen how Gordon Brown will seek to make the world safe for his clutches.

Political Theatre

LRC Blog

LRC Podcasts