Thursday, May 8, 2008

Primogeniture

On the Monarchy

As a teenage Leftie I was an instinctive Republican, and believed that the monarchy should be abolished. A few years later I moved to Turkey to teach for a few years. One of my students gave me a different view.

“When we went to school, they told us that the Republic was the best form of government, and that Monarchy was primitive and medieval. But we looked to our neighbours on one side, Iraq, Iran, Syria, the Soviet Union, and we saw that these are all republics, and they are all authoritarian police states. Then we looked to Europe and we saw countries like Great Britain, Holland, Belgium and Sweden, and these are all rich democracies where people are free, and yet they are all monarchies. We knew which ones we preferred.”

I stopped being such a knee-jerk republican after that. The world is often more complex than it first appears.

Hitler thought that democracies were inherently weak, and he had no fear of them. The only country he feared in Europe was Great Britain, because he thought that it wasn’t really a democracy. Maybe he had a point. A think-tank in the 1990s published a survey of how democratic various countries are, and Britain came out well below places like the Czech Republic, on the grounds that we have an unelected head of state, an unelected upper house, and no written constitution. But for all that, Britain is still one of the most tolerant nations in the world, although feminists and cultural Marxists are doing their best to change that. They, not the Royal Family, are the real threat to civil rights in these islands.

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