In 1977, the Sex Pistols released God Save the Queen at the same time as the queen’s Silver Jubilee. The BBC refused to play the song, as did Independent Broadcast Authority, who controlled all the television the BBC didn’t. A lot of radio stations refused to play it. It still reached number 2 in the official UK charts. It would have reached number one, but the chart rules were changed to stop it. It was ruled that singles sold in shops owned by the record company releasing the single would not count towards chart positions. As God Save the Queen was published by Virgin, any copies sold in Virgin shops weren’t counted towards its chart position.
Saturday 2nd June marks the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation (although the ‘official’ Jubilee day is Tuesday 5th). Number one in the UK charts today is We Are You, by Fun featuring Janelle Monae, number two is Chasing the Sun, by Wanted, and number three is Call Me Maybe, by Carly Rae Jepsen. What the hell happened, Britain?
This is the perfect time for some deep and serious soul-searching about the monarchy, and I find it depressing that there isn’t any. Should Britain, the self-styled Mother of Democracy, even have a monarchy in the twenty-first century? A referendum would be the perfect way to celebrate the Jubilee.
Of course, it would deliver the monarchy a mandate to stay on their throne because the British hate change and are easily whipped up into a reactionary frenzy whenever someone mentions the possibility that the status quo may possibly be a bit shit and in need of change. However, we need to break the first barrier and ask the question, so next time it won’t come as quite such a shock.
You’ve probably worked out by now which way I’d vote.
My Republicanism is only a recent thing, though. I believed in preserving the culture and heritage of our country, I believed that someone raised their whole lives to rule is better than some slimy oik who’s climbed the greased pole of politics, and I believed that we need a head of state who doesn’t need to desperately court and pander to public opinion to keep their jobs.
Allegra’s been an anarchist for a few years now with a strong belief in self-organisation and the deconstruction of centralised authority. Thanks to her, when Virginia Woolf sat me down and said, ‘how much of this country do you actually own? Right, so what is it you’re defending, exactly?’ I was listening.
The answer to Woolf’s question, of course, is precisely bugger all. I rent, so I don’t even own the house I live in let alone the ground it’s built on. And what I’m supporting is a system of hereditary power which places disproportionate emphasis on the circumstances of someone’s birth–from their parents and the social circles they inhabit, to the colour of their skin, to their gender, to their mental and physical health. Let’s have none of this ‘social mobility’ propaganda. There are more politicians called David sitting in the House of Parliament than there are women. Feel free to look up their educational backgrounds and ethnicity. Like all propaganda, it’s sweet-tasting bullshit we’re supposed to willingly swallow so we don’t look behind the curtain.
Wikipedia has a pretty good list of arguments for and against Republicanism in the UK. To be honest, I consider most of them largely irrelevant. We’re talking about the largest social change in the UK since Henry II became the first monarch to use the title ‘King of England’. Things like how much money we main gain or lose seem decidedly… short term.
There’s an Alchemical saying, ‘as above, so below’. Our system of monarchy embodies everything that is exclusionary about our society. The cogs and gears which make it live are everything which put people down, convinces them they’re worthless, destroys them from the inside out. They’re everything which justifies beating peaceful protestors, framing innocent civilians, taking away our civil liberties. They’re the head on the body which imposes its will on the world through slaughter, plunders and steals without regard to the land or the future, and demands the rest of the world changes to accommodate them. It’s the face of the mouth which says, ‘shut the fuck up, I’m right‘.
Surely it’s time for the Mother of Democracy to learn from her children and enter the nineteenth century.
The alternative? Well, the US system is no exemplar before you say anything. Between the electoral college system, the lack of real choice and the vast donations by big business, it’s frankly the greatest pony show on Earth. The upcoming election should prove my point. However, we can learn from them–and all the other republics out there–and create a system which values compassion and intelligence instead of birth and sycophancy.