Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The French Fuhrer: Genocidal Napoleon was as barbaric as Hitler, historian claims

Until recently, the French would have been incensed by any comparison between Napoleon and Hitler.

But to their rage and shame, new research has shown that France's greatest hero presided over mass atrocities which bear comparison with some of Hitler's worst crimes against humanity.

These reassessments of Napoleon have caused anguish in France. Top politicians backed out of official ceremonies to mark what was possibly Napoleon's greatest victory, the battle of Austerlitz, when Napoleon's Grande Armee defeated the combined armies of Austria and Russia in just six hours, killing 19,000 of their adversaries.

A street in Paris named Rue Richepanse (after Antoine Richepanse, a general responsible for atrocities in the Caribbean) has recently had its name changed to Rue Solitude.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Tongan king to give up absolute rule

Closing a session of Parliament a week later, the king said, "Let us rebuild a new capital and a new Tonga."

The announcement, the news agency said, is part of that promise.

Already this year, two other countries saw the end of monarchy.

In March, Bhutan held elections that ended more than 100 years of royal rule in the South Asian nation and transformed it into a democracy.

Two months later, neighboring Nepal declared itself a republic following the elections for a new Constituent Assembly that abolished a 239-year monarchy.

Nepal Sees Shaky Start as Monarchy Gives Way to Republic

Nepal's Maoists, which won the largest number of seats but fell short of a majority in April's general elections, had said they will not form a government because their choice of president was rejected by rival lawmakers.

However, the Maoists offered to reverse a decision to boycott forming a government in a compromise that could steer the newly republican country out of a new political crisis. The preconditions set by the Maoists include the need to end the alliance of Nepali Congress (NC), the Communist Party Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and Madheis People's Rights Forum, to prepare a common minimum program and give the vote of confidence to the government for at least two years.

The Maoists' continued involvement in mainstream politics is seen as crucial to the survival of the peace process. They are also the only party with enough seats to form a stable government.

Let's review that key sentence: "The Maoists' continued involvement in mainstream politics is seen as crucial to the survival of the peace process." By whom? Newly arrived aliens who have never before heard of Maoists?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Nepal Maoists rethink opposition

It was the first major decision by the assembly since lawmakers decided to abolish the 239-year-old monarchy and declare a republic, part of a peace process that ended a decade-long civil war with Maoist insurgents.

As usual, the phrase "peace process" is a euphemism for something appalling, in this case for accepting the status of a conquered people.
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class — whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.

~Frank Herbert, Dune

I guess monarchists have as much right as anybody to be oversensitive.

Monarchists upset by beer ad

A pro-monarchy group says a billboard advertisement is bordering on political advertising in support of a republic.

The Australian Monarchists League says two billboards in Sydney have urged consumers to "Forget the monarchy, support the publicans".

League national chairman Philip Benwell says the wording of the ad by South Australian beer company Coopers is an attack on the constitutional monarchy.

"This particular advertisement is designed to get people to support publicans, but it's also saying 'Forget the monarchy', and that's what we object to," he said.

"Why couldn't they say 'Forget the Republicans, support the publicans?' Why do they have to attack the monarchy?"

A spokesman for Coopers says the advertisement ran on billboards for just a short time and is not a major issue.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Monarchy in the news

Former anti-monarchist and palace bomber likely to be elected Nepal's first president

Hooray for democracy!

The Last Tsar Was Michael, Not Nicholas

The 90th anniversary of the massacre of the Romanovs in Yekaterinburg has been raised to a new dimension thanks to the city of Perm. Since 1991, a growing number of Perm residents have argued that the last legitimate ruler of Russia was not Nicholas II, but his younger brother Michael. Recently, their cause got a mighty boost -- from Britain, of all places.

Donald Crawford, the co-author of "Michael and Natasha: The Life and Love of Michael II, the Last of the Romanov Tsars," is adamant that "legally, albeit just for one day, the last Russian tsar was not Nicholas, but Michael." Michael's secret morganatic marriage to Nataliya in 1912, in a Serbian church in Vienna, was a scandal. The tsar forbade him to set foot in Russia, impounded his property and deprived of a chance to succeed.

Monarchy still best, Romanov heiress tells Russians

YEKATERINBURG, Russia - Russians should not rule out the benefits of returning to a monarchical system, a leading descendant of tsar Nicholas II said on Thursday while marking her ancestor's killing 90 years ago.

"Concerning monarchy, it's for the Russian people to decide themselves if this option suits them," said Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, who on the basis of her ancestral line claims to be Nicholas's heir.

"It gives a nation something eternal they can rely on.... Forgive me, as head of the imperial house I couldn't think otherwise, but it's our people who should choose for themselves," she told reporters.

Belgium: Last hope?

July 21 is usually a day of celebration in Belgium, yet on Monday King Albert II will have to contemplate no less than the disintegration of his kingdom as he addresses his people on their national holiday.

Following Prime Minister Yves Leterme’s resignation last week, after only four months in office, the prospects of a division of Belgium into two separate states along linguistic lines is becoming ever more real. The crisis began with the inconclusive result of the June 2007 general election: nine months later an extremely fragile five-party coalition was finally cobbled together, but only because the decision on the key question of decentralisation was postponed until July 15. When a compromise between the francophone and Flemish parties could not be found, the government collapsed.

Dead dreams of kingship

This is a very strange story: the tale of a dashing young Habsburg archduke who, some thought, was destined to become King of the Ukraine at the end of the First World War. His enthronement would have fulfilled the dreams of many, including the soldiers of the 'Ukrainian Legion' which he had commanded. And for the archduke himself, who had learned fluent Ukrainian and wore an embroidered peasant shirt under his uniform, it would have been the realisation of all his ambitions.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Has this chap written any books I can order?

Chavs become protected species in new PC witch-hunt by Gerald Warner

The great Chav debate waxes ever more furiously. Its most recent escalation has been provoked by Tom Hampson, editorial director of the Fabian Society, in a leader for the Fabian Review that has not yet officially been published. Mr Hampson is deeply exercised about the use of the term "chav" and wants it banned (what else?).

"You cannot consider yourself of the left and use the word," declares Hampson. Not a problem in my case, Tom. "It is deeply offensive to a largely voiceless group," he insists. This suggests a lack of empirical evidence to support his case: whatever else chavs may be, they are certainly not voiceless. "It is distancing," he bleats on, "turning the 'chav' into the kind of feral beast that exists only in tabloid headlines." Poor Mr Hampson - he obviously does not get out much.

That does not prevent him indulging in some insightful social analysis: "The middle classes have always used language to distinguish themselves from those a few rungs below them on the ladder - we all know their old serviette/napkin, lounge/living room, settee/sofa tricks." Hah! Got your number, Ms Mitford! (How she would have adored being described as "middle-class".) Clearly, you have to get up pretty early in the morning to put one over on Mr Hampson in the U/Non-U class struggle. With a bolshie attitude like that, however, he is unlikely to accumulate desirable invitations (he would probably call them "invites") on his chimneypiece.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A couple of links from an interesting site

The Impact Of Decline Upon Weights And Measures

Our community is discarding the useful weights and measures learnt by centuries of experience by replacing Imperial with Metric measure. The following article is from Keefe university, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England. It is about the proposed metrication of the United Kingdom but it clearly reveals the defeat of commonsense that metrication entails.

The Inspiration And Nature Of Democracy

Whenever the notion of democracy is criticised, contemporary citizens (circa 2000) often ignore the logic of the arguments but simply reiterate that ancient Greek civilization proved the value of democracy. It certainly did, but the example of ancient Greek civilization is the opposite of a recommendation for democracy. Ancient Greek civilization rose to wealth and power as a series of city states each ruled by a monarch, who the Greeks referred to as a tyrant. The start of the decline of ancient Greek civilization was marked by the Peloponessian war in the 5th century BC, which was effectively a rebellion against the traditional rule of tyrants. The status quo was championed by Sparta and the rebellion by Athens, who had replaced their tyrant with a forum of wealthy citizens. The Athenian approach was to let the forum decide issues via a discussion followed by a vote, and this is generally considered as the birth of democracy.

The site in general is worth exploring. I think most monarchists will find it more or less to their tastes; like us, he is unimpressed by most things about the modern world.

New Links added

In going through my monarchist links looking for items to add to Social Monarchy, I came across several blog posts. Most of these blogs I don't subscribe to, many of them I largely disagree with, but they had individual posts of interest to monarchists.

So I just added a new link list to my sidebar for those posts. Be sure to explore them.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A day-late Bastille Day link

I can't believe I missed this yesterday. Hat tip Royal World, Gerald Warner points out the true nature of Bastille Day.

Bastille Day celebrates murderous origins of French Republic

Pompous parades will today celebrate the event that triggered the French Revolution, that is to say, the most appalling bloodbath anterior to the Russian Revolution. Seven prisoners were released from the Bastille - four counterfeiters, an accomplice to murder and two lunatics - whose return to the community was hardly beneficial. The attack on the prison, reserved for the well-off, was orchestrated by the Marquis de Sade and Camille Desmoulins on behalf of the Nine Sisters masonic lodge.

There followed the September massacres, the marriages republicains in which people of opposite sexes were stripped naked and lashed together in obscene postures before being drowned, mothers forced to watch their children being guillotined and the massacre of 400,000 Catholic royalists - the majority of them women and children - in La Vendee. Sounds like the perfect excuse for a celebratory knees-up.

Discussion of male primogeniture

This piece is from a feminist website:

Queens, Virgins, and Sluts

Warning: There is some strong language on the site. Not a great deal, but it's there.

(I hope to post more parts of this is anyone's interested in reading it. And let me clarify I'm an American and I don't actually dislike the monarchy or think it should be abolished, I just don't like some of the sexism that comes with it)

The monarchy in Great Britain is one of the few monarchies in Europe that still has male-preference primogeniture. For the unfamiliar, basically that means that when the throne is vacant, it goes to the oldest son. Only if there are no sons can it go to a daughter. If there are no children at all, it goes back through the line of the next son back a generation. For example, if a King had a girl first, and then a boy, the boy would get the throne even though he's younger than his sister. If he has no sons and one daughter, she gets the throne. If he has no children at all, it would go to his younger brother or his brother's descendants.

Getting passed [sic] the general unfairness of getting anything simply because you were born to the right family at the right time, it's also unfair in another sense. It's astonishingly outdated and sexist. That's the reason the monarchies in Sweden, Norway, and Belgium, among other places, changed it to absolute primogeniture, which is where the eldest child, regardless of gender, takes the throne. One of the main reasons Britain hasn't changed like those other countries is that it just hasn't come up since Queen Victoria's children. Every monarch since Queen Victoria has either had a sons first, or hasn't had sons at all. If the current Queen had had a younger brother, she would not be reigning right now unless the law had been changed in her favor.

This raises several points. To begin with, the one she mentions in passing, the "general unfairness" of inheritance. It's unfair to the newborn heirs, true, but it is entirely fair to the deceased who bequeath the inheritance. Having worked to create or maintain something, a person has every right to pass it on to their own blood, rather than have the government seize it in the name of "fairness". It doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone that the reason people today are less likely to save money, or invest it in something lasting, but instead spend it on having fun, is that inheritance taxes mean that there is no point in saving. The importance of being able to leave a legacy cannot be overstated. Without it, we would quite literally still be living in caves.

Capitalists point out, with much truth, that people work to invent things or build companies and so on so that they can enjoy wealth and a feeling of accomplishment. What we seem to have forgotten is that one of the most powerful reasons that people work is to create something that will last longer than we will: a nation, an estate, a company, a house, a dynasty, even a code of values. (That last is one more thing it's become increasingly difficult for us to pass on to our children!) With a code of law which is constantly changing, criminally high inheritance taxes, and a compulsory education system which is designed to subvert the values many parents would prefer to teach their children, it is very difficult to believe that anything one builds will last for one's entire lifetime, let alone past it. I love capitalism, but nonetheless, greed is not enough.

Admittedly, it is not "fair" to the various babies who are born to commoners that they won't get to be king. (Here we are assuming that being a monarch is a desirable state, which is highly debatable. It's a difficult and often thankless job.) However, is it "fair" to the entire citizenry of a nation to subject them to the abuses and shifting sands of democracy, just so that no child will have his feelings hurt by not being able to expect to be king?

So let's talk about male primogeniture. This is going to be rather depressingly pragmatic, but bear with me. When our most vital institutions are under fire, one is forced to bare the dreary cynical purposes they serve as well as the more uplifting and dignified.

The reason for primogeniture in the first place is that, to be blunt, the first child or two is more likely to be legitimate. (Richard Coniff discusses this widespread phenomenon throughout the animal kingdom as well as among humans in his amusing work of evolutionary psychology, A Natural History of the Rich.) If a wife is going to be unfaithful, then in a less decadent era than our own, it will generally take her a few years to overcome her own scruples and worries. In addition, husbands are likely to be less attentive - and less vigilant - once they've had her for a few years and have an heir or two. (Mr. Coniff points out that Camilla Parker Bowles was faithful to her husband for several years after their marriage and produced two legitimate heirs before her affair with Charles resumed.)

So why was primogeniture male? It wasn't only because for most of history, people have had a low opinion of women's ability. It was because a lord or a king was likely to have to draw a sword and lead soldiers into battle, and women can't do that. (I know that in our enlightened age I am supposed to pretend that women are just as strong as men. I decline to join that lie. I spent my school years being beaten up by boys so that my feminist teachers could feel liberated by not telling them not to hit girls.) All right, there is a very small percentage of women who can, but even if a queen just happened to be that sort, her country wasn't about to let her go risking the royal womb that way. They needed her to be producing heirs. In an era when child deaths were common, there could never be too many heirs.

A certain anti-feminist blog I came across in my search for articles about monarchy asked, “Why did women ever succeed to the throne at all?” He then explains:

Those who managed to get themselves into power wanted to cling to it by any means, including passing it on to their children. A breakdown in the royal succession often led to civil war and foreign invasion, and everyone wanted to avoid that. The worst outcome for a monarch was to die childless. It is no surprise that the Royal daughters became Plan B. If the King had a daughter but no sons, then she would often succeed to the throne in order to maintain political stability. At the same time, do not imagine that Royal women in the past were passive idiots; they were just as rich and arrogant as the men, and they maneuvered on their own behalf.

Male primogeniture, like much else in society, is a cultural reflection of human nature, not some sinister misogynist conspiracy.

And by the way, there were more female heads of state before feminism, when most nations were monarchies, than there have been since Women's Lib.

Perhaps that much, male primogeniture, really is outdated, in an era when a prince in the army is kept well away from harm. But I prefer to leave this custom as it is, if only because we have made too many changes already over the past horrific century. There is no very good reason to change this one, therefore we should not change it.

Monarchical links

Tonga’s reforms should be in royal time

While rumours fan out across the Pacific that pro-democracy supporters plan to disrupt the forthcoming coronation of Tonga’s King George next month, we hope any basis these rumous may have are already scotched, and any plans they intend to realize, are aborted. The pro-democracy movement in Tonga has already done enough damage to Tonga’s social fabric of late. Democracy is good for Fiji, but not necessarily good for Tonga. Not if a one-size-fits-all template is contemplated and not if it is simply a means of change for change’s sake.

Democracy is good for Fiji because of the multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural character of our history and national composition. Democracy here allows those outside of our traditional indigenous hierarchical system a chance to improve their respective lots without succumbing to it. Without democracy, the indigenous system would put everyone at the mercy of chiefly blood. That’s OK if you’re a chief, but what if you’re not? What chances have you of rising to the top like cream in a bottle if you have no ‘ratu’ or ‘adi’ or similar entitlement in your ancestral CV?

Of course, monarchy is actually beneficial to diverse nations as well, because a monarch represents all of his people, not just the party that elected him or the lobbies that funded his campaign, etc. Nonetheless, the editorial makes excellent points.


THE Royal Black Institution is a wonderful organisation in a position to give a lead to the wider community, its Sovereign Grand Master has said....

During the course of his address Sir Knight Farr referred to the first resolution of faith, which he said should be the most important thing in our lives.

"The Red Cross (on the collarettes) is the ultimate symbol of Christianity and it is from that symbol and the message of sacrifice and salvation it conveys we can draw the courage to stand up and declare the Christian values and principles so essential in today's world," he continued.

"It is continually said we live in a changing world and we must change or be left behind. That may well be the case in some aspects of life but not when we come to the faith we profess. We all know right from wrong, let us practice what is right and discard all that is wrong....

""Because we live in such a democracy, the Crowned Head is the ultimate guardian of freedom from any excessive or foolish acts by Government.

"As we become more deeply entwined within Europe and more powers are ceded to its authority, we must be vigilant that our monarchy and way of life are not sidelined to be replaced by something which would be alien and indeed harmful to our well being and tradition."

Monday, July 14, 2008

David Davis: rebellious, risk-taking...but patriotic

After David Davis decided to fight a by-election on the issue of civil liberties, many people branded him an "eccentric". As someone who has spent the past two years studying the English eccentric, I must protest.

Unlike the notorious Regency eccentric John "Mad Jack" Mytton, Davis does not have a pet giraffe that joins him for Sunday lunch via a trapdoor in his dining room.

Nor does he employ an ornamental hermit to live in his garden, like 18th-century landowner Charles Hamilton, who forbade the man to cut his beard or nails, leave the grounds, talk to the servants or wear anything other than a camel-hair robe.

But the most worrying thing about the coverage of today's vote has not been the definition of eccentricity used, but the sneering tone - not just about Davis, but the assortment of 25 other candidates. In 1859, John Stuart Mill warned: "That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of our time." Almost 150 years on, that danger is just as real.

Society has become so risk-averse and litigious that eccentricity is squeezed out. In 2007, when an admirably idiosyncratic architect in London trimmed his front hedge into the shape of a whale, he was asked to remove it by the local council; they felt it endangered passing pedestrians.

The author of this article has written an entire book about the English eccentric. I'm going to have to order a copy "dispatched", as they so delightfully put it, across the Pond.

Hat tip: An Englishman's Castle.

History Snarkage

I think many of you will enjoy the blog Popcorn and Chain Mail, "Sporking Hollywood's butchering of history". Historians hilariously ridicule the outrageous historical inaccuracies in movies.

Here's a small sample from their sporking of Elizabeth:

cutecoati: Man, this movie really has a problem with Catholics.

fourth_rose: The fact that the director wanted a cameo appearance as the man who stabs the bishop backs up this assumption.

Yeah. I'm not even Catholic, and I get offended at the anti-Catholic bias in various movies.

Several good posts about Bastille Day

Several other bloggers have also linked this one, and with good reason: The 14th of July 1789: what really happened on Bastille Day?

First let's put things in context. In 1789 France had been for decades in the grips of a budget crisis. It was due to the country's absurd tax structure, and had recently been aggravated by the French support of the American Independence War.

From Le Fleur De Lys Too, Relections on Bastille Day

This puts it in perspective by using contemporary American parallels:

Remember when the L.A. riots spun out of control, and engulfed the whole United States? The key moment was no doubt when police and Army commanders took fright and changed sides, throwing their support to the Committee for Public Safety led by Tom Hayden, along with Noam Chomsky, Barbara Boxer, Michael Moore, and Edward Said. After Hayden’s fall and execution, his successor, Marion Barry, insisted that President Bush and his wife Barbara be tried for treason. Their executions shocked the world but sparked wild celebrations in the capital, as the First Couple’s severed heads danced on poles in daylong parades. A crack whore was duly enshrined in the National Cathedral as the Goddess of Reason.

Marie-Antoinette and the Revolution

There are several points that need to be considered here. First of all, Marie-Antoinette was indeed an Austrian Archduchess, raised to be the consort of the European ruler. She had it instilled in her mind from early on that she was meant to be a queen, although it was not until late in her childhood that it was decided that she was to be the bride of the Dauphin of France. Therefore, Marie-Antoinette was brought up with the idea that it was the monarchy which protected the rights of the people, particularly from the excesses of greedy nobles and barbarous invaders. Without the monarchy's protection, the people would become pawns in games between politicians who would take power for themselves and become dictators. Or so she was taught to see it.

And, of course, subsequent history has proven the Queen to have been absolutely right.

This one doesn't focus on the French Revolution, but it's an excellent post nonetheless:

Queens and princes are for children in a fairytale world.

If that is so, then politicians and "freely elected" heads of state are the stuff of nightmares and by which you scare children. Want to scare your child? Tell them they will be forever paying taxes simply to subsidize the interest alone on their republican national debt. The American Republic's national debt to private bankers and foreign bond owners now exceeds $9 trillion USD.

Want to frighten your children some more? Tell them to be prepared for corruption and demagoguery - they won't have any real choices - Democrats or Republicans. Demoplicans or Republicrats. Choose A or B, but forget about C,D,E,F ... etc. Tell your children about their "freely elected" heads of state and government will take - at every opportunity - their God-given rights. The politicians will spit on their laws, customs and constitutions for personal gain and power. Vive le Roi! Vive la France! Vive le Roi! Vive la France!

219 years ago today, on 14 July 1789, the original terrorists — the Revolutionaries of France — initiated their diabolical democratic movement with the storming of the Bastille. So many of the ills of the world since then began then and there.

A short post but a good one. Many readers will also be interested in the post directly below this one, which is about the Reformation and secular government. Seems Mr. Lewis, like many monarchists, is Catholic.

Hope for Nepal

Monarchy in Nepal will be reinstated: Kamal Thapa

“I for one beleive that the Monarchy in Nepal will be reinstated…I think there must be a referendum to decide if the Nepalese people love or hate the institution that served the country for all along two centuries and half”, Thapa added.

RPP-N to Join Hands with Maoists

Chairman of Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N) Kamal Thapa said on Sunday that his party could work with the Maoists for the sake of the nation. Thapa said his party would launch a campaign to revive monarchy.

Thapa hopes for revival of monarchy

Through a press meet in the eastern town of Biratnagar Sunday, Thapa revealed that his party would continue to campaign for revival of monarchy in Nepal for the country's sovereignty and strengthening of democracy.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

‘I should’ve been called full stop’

India’s royal dynasties held on to their property — not to mention much of their local power — and, like landed gentry everywhere, have been forced to diversify, to take bookings in order to prevent their outrageously extravagant homes from falling down around them. Pradyut is no exception; his Shillong home has been converted into the only heritage hotel in the northest, and he has, perhaps, the distinction of being a the only royal with a hefty bank loan, which helped fund its refurbishment. “My father would come and order chicken sandwiches, insist on paying and feel rather pleased by it all.”...

This king did not have to be taught to negotiate modernity. When the time came, after his father died two years ago, he just quietly — or not so quietly, considering six lakh people attended his coronation — truckled into his family business of being King. Being reductive about his legacy is a bit of a habit: “We are tribal chiefs, custodians of our customary laws and defenders of our boundaries,” and then “I have four older sisters; they should have called me full stop.”

Yet behind the fata morgana of lightness, there is pride. “I come from a long line of progressive rulers.” He reels off some firsts — education for women was made compulsory in the 19th century by his great grandfather; the first schools were opened by his great great grandfather; the Tripura airport was made by his grandfather; Rabindranath Tagore was financed by his grandfather, as was Shantinekitan. “That is why, I think, we’ve survived.”

Friday, July 11, 2008

Monarchy in the news

In case anyone's wondering, I get these links from Google Alerts.

Iraq indivisible

Fifty years after the Iraqi army toppled the pro-West monarchy on 14 July 1958, Iraqis who live in their now terror- stricken nation are too preoccupied with survival to celebrate what many of them esteem as a revolution of national liberation against the colonial power of the time, Great Britain.

"Pro-West monarchy". Makes you think sadly on what Might Have Been.

The mess in Nepal continues:

Post-royal political deadlock drags on in Nepal

KATHMANDU (AFP) — Nepal's Maoists said Thursday they were still unable to form a government and fill a post-monarchy political vacuum because ethnic parties from the south were holding up the process.

The impoverished Himalayan nation has effectively been without a proper government since May 28, when a newly-elected constitutional assembly voted to sack unpopular king Gyanendra, abolish the 240-year-old monarchy and proclaim a republic.

Disturbing signs for Nepal

KATHMANDU - The inordinate delay in the world's youngest republic in finding a president as well as a prime minister leaves Nepal wide open to disasters - both natural and man-made.

"Law and order is in tatters, particularly in some Terai districts [in the south], and the culture of impunity remains intact," is how the Brussels-based International Crisis Group described Nepal's condition in its latest report, released this month. Ongoing haggling over the formation of a government is a related issue of concern....

This Nepali calendar year started on April 13 and the abolition of the monarchy on May 28 is already considered a destabilizing factor.

Although Nepal's interim statute envisages a secular country, time-tested traditions and beliefs in a pre-dominantly Hindu society are unlikely to disappear overnight.

There's some rather intriguing stuff about the various omens, still believed in by many Nepalese, which foretold harm to the king (which of course happened) and predicts numerous natural disasters for Nepal in the next few years.

This does not augur well for the Maoists, led by Prachanda, who are set to rule Nepal for the next five years. "None of the present political parties has a future," says the astrologer, adding that a new party will come into existence, along with a new set of leaders and the return of the monarchy.

We Jews aren't supposed to believe in omens and astrology, alas.

I rarely approve of anything a court does these days, so I report this with pleasure:

Spanish court upholds fines for Catalan nationalists who burned photos of king and queen

In last week's retrial, Judge Jose Luis de Castro dismissed the defendants' argument that the charge violated their right to freedom of expression. That, the judge said, protected their right to protest the monarchy _ but not to vilify the royal couple by burning their photographs.

The judge said the fact the two had masked their faces before burning the pictures showed they knew they were committing an offense.

Bhutan Emerges As The World’s Newest Democracy

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has emerged from 100 years of absolute monarchy to become the world's newest democracy, and doing so without a revolution or civil war....

Today, the new young king of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, is trying to build on his father's efforts to transform the country.

Earlier this year, the country held mock elections to introduce people to the idea of voting. In March, Bhutan became a two-party parliamentary democracy, and voters participated in the first direct election of a 47-seat National Assembly.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New Monarchist Resource!

Count Robert Décsey von Deés has just launched a social networking and bookmarking site for monarchists. Everybody, please register! (I'm on as JewishJacobite.)


Honorary Nepalese consul: New gov't wooing tourists

Brustin [the honorary consul general of Nepal] said he has served in the post for about nine years and half-joked that the relationship has kept him from an analyst's couch.

"I like to tell my colleagues that I avoid psychiatric care because my couch is Nepal," he said.

He said Nepal's population throughout the years has climbed steadily to 30 million. And, Brustin noted, the country -- a democracy only since 1991 -- has never been conquered.

He said the Nepalese, in converting from a monarchy to a democracy, have overcome bloodshed and internal insurrection.

If that's what he actually thinks happened, perhaps he needs a psychiatrist after all. I grew up fully expecting to die when communists dropped the bomb on us. Have people already forgotten what communists are?

Rhetorical. Many people pretended not to notice what communists were while they were still having a go at taking over the world.

Local Nepalese keep wary watch on nation’s reform

Nepal, which has been under monarchy rule for 240 years, declared itself a republic on May 28, and the monarchy was abolished on June 11. So far, the development has gotten mixed reactions from some New England-area Nepali Americans.

“It’s a good move in terms of removing the monarchy and the last 239 years,” said Sandar Gurung, 36, an administrative worker in Boston. He has lived in America for more than eight years and is originally from Pokhara in western Nepal. “I hope it goes well. It’s a very unsure time in history [right now]. In 1990, they declared a democracy, but it didn’t work … . Though it is a very small country, there are so many different ethnic groups, and hopefully we don’t have conflicts all over the place.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 A Letter To American "Conservatives"

I just discovered a new monarchist blog. A Letter To American "Conservatives"

THIS is why I'm a monarchist: because sometimes, the People are wrong.

Representative government is dangerous. It only works when the People are educated and intelligent enough to comprehend the issues, when they are sophisticated enough to see through the web of lies and propaganda spun by the political parties, and when they hold the values and mores of the Judeo-Christian worldview exclusively. None of this is true of the current United States population. Most people are damned fools who should no more be trusted with a vote than a chimp should be trusted with a machine gun. Most people are incapable of telling propagandistic shit from fact-supported Shinola. Most people, while nominally Christian, are actually pagan hedonists with no greater moral code than "if it feels good, and it doesn't hurt anybody in a way I can't rationalize, do it". And yet my little boy has to grow up in a country whose laws, military, and nuclear weapons are controlled by a gang of professional pirates chosen by whatever miniscule percentage of this slack-jawed populace remembers to show up on Election Day.

The entire post - in fact, the entire blog, as far as I've read - is in the same blunt tone. Demmed refreshing after hearing too much liberalspeak.

Nepal: Maoists Face The Surreality Of Newness

The Unified Marxist-Leninists (UML), despite their recent bonhomie with the Maoists, have set up their own brigade of brigands to counter the Young Communist League. With enough revolutionary shine, the UML might gain far more than the men and women it lost to the Maoists in the early years of the People's War.

In other words: now various different communist factions are going to be wrestling for control of Nepal.

From the way Prime Minister Koirala tricked the nation into believing his intent to resign was an actual resignation, it is clear the wily octogenarian is far from a spent force.

With the monarchy gone, the feudalism tag has centered on the upper castes dominating the major parties. As the largest one, the Maoists are particularly vulnerable.

So the upper classes are still in control of everything? What a surprise! Here we thought that abolishing monarchy would instantly make everyone equal!

Geopolitically, things are in a state of flux. India's home minister keeps assuring his country that Nepal's Maoists share nothing beyond ideological ties with the Naxalites. But sections of the Indian media have the opposite view and have been reaffirming it with energetically in recent weeks.

One Calcutta newspaper suggested how Gyanendra Shah's birth chart remains royally propitious.

Makes me wish I believed in astrology.

With the transition to the premiership becoming so thorny, Prachanda must be scared stiff of what might await him in power. If the Maoist rank and file still expect an October Revolution, they probably realize it may be mounted against them.

Aspiring revolutionaries of the world, please bear that in mind as the Nepalese Maoists did not: once you start a revolution, history tells us that you yourself are very likely to end up in the tumbrils.

This columnist maintains a blog about Nepal that is certainly worth reading.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Nepal and Hawaii

Supporters gather to greet Nepal's former king on his birthday

KATMANDU - ABOUT 500 people gathered outside the summer home of Nepal's former king on Monday to greet him on his 61st birthday.

Mr Gyanendra, however, did not meet visitors and nobody was allowed inside the Nagarjung palace, situated on a forested hill just west of the Nepalese capital, Katmandu.

'We have come here to show that the people of Nepal still believe in the king and that the monarchy should be reinstated,' said Mr Muskan Poudel.

Nepal's centuries-old monarchy was abolished by the Constitutional Assembly in May, and Mr Gyanendra left the main palace in June. Mr Gyanendra and his wife have been living in the summer house since.

Mr Gyanendra was forced to give up his authoritarian rule in 2006 after weeks of pro-democracy protests. He was later stripped of all his powers and command of the army. -- AP

July 4 Double Holiday for Hawaii -- 1776 and 1894

Let's remember what Hawaii was like on America's birthdate in 1776. Captain Cook had not yet arrived. Hawaiians were living in the stone age. They had not yet invented the wheel, had no written language, and no clay pottery. They had only extremely small amounts of metal that washed up in driftwood from sunken ships. There was constant warfare among competing warlords. There was no concept of human rights -- both slavery and human sacrifice were practiced. The death penalty was imposed on anyone who stepped on the shadow of a high chief, or any woman who ate a banana or coconut.

Things had functioned that way for a thousand years and would have remained unchanged except for the arrival of British explorers in 1778, followed by European and American whalers and businessmen, and then American missionaries in 1820.

Okay, but that's no reason for them to give up their monarchy and become part of an already unwieldy large republic.

In 1893 a revolution led by a local militia with 1500 members put an end to a corrupt and ineffective monarchy, replacing it with a republic.

A republic which is also corrupt and ineffective.

President Grover Cleveland's letter was tersely phrased. Cleveland had spent a year trying to destroy the revolutionary Provisional Government until Congress, following a two month investigation, told him the U.S. had done nothing wrong during the revolution and he should stop trying to undo it. U.S. Minister Albert Willis had given a letter to President Dole in December, 1893 on behalf of President Cleveland, "ordering" Dole to step down and restore Cleveland's friend the Queen. But in August 1894 it was Willis who swallowed his pride and made a pretty speech while personally handing Cleveland's letter of de jure recognition to President Dole.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Hans Hoppe on monarchy and low taxes

And it seems that today is the day for economics-related links, for Wilson Revolution Unplugged just gave me this:

Monarchy, Democracy, and the Laffer Curve

The blogger quotes Hoppe:

Accordingly, it must be regarded as unavoidable that public-government ownership results in continual capital consumption. Instead of maintaining or even enhancing the value of the government estate, as a king would do, a president (the government’s temporary caretaker and trustee) will use as much of the government resources as quickly as possible, for what he does not consume now, he may never be able to consume. In particular, a president (as distinct from a king) has no interest in not ruining his country. … For a president… moderation offers only disadvantages.

Socialism brings back the bad bits of monarchy without the good

I may be a monarchist, but I'm not one whit less American for it. For instance, I'm still a staunch capitalist. Not that I imagine, as the more naïve variety of libertarians do, that a free market will solve all problems. I simply prefer the drawbacks of capitalism to the drawbacks of any other system I've ever heard of.

So this article on economics and history interested me very much:

Bowyer: Back to Monarchy in Land Rights? Posted By:Jerry Bowyer

As I write this, I sit here in Western Pennsylvania, atop the Marcellus Oil Shale Deposit, which may become one of the largest sources of natural gas in the world.

The CEO of its development company recently told Larry Kudlow that things were going pretty quickly for him because most of the land above the deposit is privately owned. Negotiating with private owners, he said, who have an incentive to negotiate mineral rights, works a lot better than negotiating with governments.

Some western states are almost all government owned, and the resources of those states remains buried in the ground. Not so with Pennsylvania, which is historically a farming state. That’s why the world’s first commercial oil well was sunk not far from here, in Titusville, on what previously been a farm.

Why did it start here, and not in the middle east or South America? Because they didn’t have Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence which we celebrate today, fought for the powerful idea that the right to private property included what’s under the surface of the ground as well as what is above it.

The old-world model was that the mineral rights belonged to the king. Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor, held that coal and iron discovered on a freeman’s property could be taken by the state - without compensation. Not surprisingly, farmers went to great trouble not to find subterranean resources, and to hide any they’d uncovered. This model traveled west with the conquistadors and became the legal order of the Spanish colonies in Central and South America. It’s why Hugo Chavez and not some entrepreneur controls the vast oil reserves of Venezuela. It’s why Mexico’s oil company is state, not private-owned.

However, Jefferson announced a Novus Ordo Seclorum. This translates as “new order of the ages”, not as certain right wing conspiracy cranks claim “new world order”. It means that the old legal order of the divine right of kings would give way to a new order of "all men are created equal."

We have in recent decades drifted backwards, a little, to the old world. Central planning environmentalists cordon off great swaths of energy-rich property from the use of any consumers except a few disproportionately wealthy eco-tourists. They describe this act of putting resources under the control of the state as “progressive”. But they are wrong, it’s not progress, it’s a regression to the pre-American, pre-Jeffersonian privileges of the crown. The natural resources are being held for the good of the few, not for the good of the many.

Friday, July 4, 2008

African Democracy

Americans over 40 would do well to recall how a stable and prosperous country known as Rhodesia was bullied by smug Europeans and Americans into holding bogus elections that propelled a Red Chinese backed terrorist named Mugabe into the presidency of the renamed Zimbabwe. Dan Schorr was an enthusiastic proponent of the revolution, and on the eve of the election Schorr could only express his disappointment with Mugabe: "Whatever credit Mugabe deserves for having led the liberation struggle against Ian Smith and his white supremacists pales when placed next to his misdeeds of the last ten or fifteen years. The Mugabe of 1980 was a hero. The Mugabe of 2004 is a despot." Pales is perhaps not le mot juste in this situation.

Hat tip: Wilson Revolution Unplugged.

Alexis de Tocqueville quotations

Stolen from Tea At Trianon.

~A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it.

~All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it.

~America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

~Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.

~In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.

~The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.

In honor of the day, an excerpt from Little Town on the Prairie

Laura Ingalls would have been about 14, so this would have been about 1881. On the Fourth of July, Pa, Laura and Carrie were in town for the celebration. Carrie was wishing they could buy some firecrackers, but Laura told her they couldn't afford them. A little while later, their father came to them with some firecrackers. When Carrie, delighted, asked how much they cost, he said, "Didn't cost me a cent. Lawyer Barnes handed them to me, said to give them to you girls." Laura had never heard of the man and asked why he should do them this favor. "Oh, he's going in for politics, I guess," Pa replied. "He acts that way, affable and agreeable to everybody."

A little while later, a man stands up on something and gives a jingoistic speech before reading the Declaration of Independence out loud. The book says, "Laura and Carrie knew the Declaration by heart, of course…." Carrie was about eleven. When I was eleven, the teachers made us memorize the first three sentences. We never read the whole thing in school, nor did we read any of the Constitution; most of us had a general idea of the Bill of Rights from television. It wasn't until I was an adult that I read the entire things through on my own. Oh, and by the way? The girls also knew long sections of the Bible by heart. This is a digression, but at this time, there were only two requirements for teachers: they had to pass a written exam, and they had to be at least sixteen. Laura Ingalls had her first teaching job at the age of 15 because no one thought to ask her age. And they produced children who knew important documents by heart and could diagram sentences. I challenge any of today's college-graduate teachers to pass the exam she passed at 15. I bet hardly any of them could. One of my high school English teachers had to look it up before settling a dispute between two students about whether the past tense of sneak is "sneaked" or "snuck". I swear on a Torah scroll that I am not making this up. And people wonder why I don't believe children learn anything in school.

Back on topic: after the reading, the crowd sings "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", and then:

The crowd was scattering away then, but Laura stood stock still. Suddenly she had a completely new thought. The Declaration and the song came together in her mind, and she thought: God is America's king.

She thought: Americans won't obey any king on earth. Americans are free. That means they have to obey their own consciences. No king bosses Pa; he has to boss himself. Why (she thought), when I am a little older, Pa and Ma will stop telling me what to do, and there isn't anyone else who has a right to give me orders. I will have to make myself be good.

Her whole mind seemed to be lighted up by that thought. This is what it means to be free. It means, you have to be good. "Our father's God, author of liberty—" The laws of Nature and of Nature's God endow you with a right to life and liberty. Then you have to keep the laws of God, for God's law is the only thing that gives you a right to be free.

Can you imagine any American today seriously thinking that "no one" has a right to give them orders? Just today I've taken orders from the DMV, the FDA, the state legislators who decided how dark my car's windows can be tinted, and probably a pile of others to boot.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Robert Dabney on Democracy

Indeed, as De Tocqueville predicted, innovations in the direction of extensions of suffrage will always be successful in America, because of the selfish timidity of her public men. It is the nature of ultra democracy to make all its politicians time servers; its natural spawn is the brood of narrow, truckling, cowardly worshippers of the vox populi, and of present expediency. Their polar star is always found in the answer to the question, “Which will be the more popular?” As soon as any agitation of this kind goes far enough to indicate a possibility of success, their resistance ends. Each of them begins to argue thus in his private mind: “The proposed revolution is of course preposterous, but it will be best for me to leave opposition to it to others. For if it succeeds, the newly enfranchised will not fail to remember the opponents of their claim at future elections, and to reward those who were their friends in the hour of need.” Again: it has now become a regular trick of American demagogues in power to manufacture new classes of voters to sustain them in office. It is presumed that the gratitude of the newly enfranchised will be sufficient to make them vote the ticket of their benefactors. But as gratitude is a very flimsy sort of fabric among Radicals, and soon worn threadbare, such a reliance only lasts a short time, and requires to be speedily replaced.

~~Robert Lewis Dabney.Women’s Rights Women

Stolen from The Boy's Own Paper.

The Return of the Romanovs?

Head of the Romanovs' Family is optimistic about establishing monarchy in Russia

Moscow, July 2, Interfax - Head of the Romanovs' Imperial Family of Russia Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna hopes that Russia will be some time ready to become monarchy again.

"By all means, I believe in the future of monarchy in Russia, or rather, I want to believe that the values of this system will be understood and valued by Russians again," Grand Duchess said in her interview published Wednesday by the Rossiiskiye Vesti.

At the same time, she said that she would object, if "someone proposed to restore monarchy against the will of my fellow-countrymen."

"Even the best intentions fail, if they are imposed by force. Now people still feel the weight of the hundred year's long antimonarchist propaganda. It takes time for the people to understand that the monarchy is a progressive and up-to-date system which combines the best experience of a centuries-long history of Russia and modern reality," Maria Vladimirovna said.

Grand Duchess explained that the Imperial Family and she were "president's associates, rather than his opposition." "And we do not intend to get involved in any political struggle, we only would like to be helpful to this country and facilitate favorable changes here," Maria Vladimirovna said.

Commenting the commitment of some of her relatives, descendants of the Romanovs' Imperial Family, to republican ideas, she said that "a member of the Imperial Family following the republican ideas is the same as the Church professing atheism."

"It makes me sad to see when some of our relatives are involved is a strange and useless policy, denouncing the ideals encouraged by their ancestors. It is too bad that they pay no attention to efficient democratic monarchy systems in Europe. If their republican views concern Russia only, that means they consider Russia as a second rate country."

Hat tip: Royal World.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

In Nepal: 'We are trying our best to understand democracy'

Prachanda, which means "awesome" or "the fierce one", came out of the jungle two years ago, but his journey from insurgent commander to mainstream politician is far from complete. As if to emphasise his distance from the Kathmandu political establishment, which he calls "feudal", he lives in a run-down area of the city, close to a rubbish-strewn canal. His house, with sandbagged emplacements at each corner, is guarded by unsmiling male and female cadres in camouflage fatigues and caps with a red star on the peak.

The presence of these guerrillas in the heart of the capital is chilling for Kathmandu's people. If they were able to shut out thoughts of the Maoists' 10-year rural rebellion, in which more than 13,000 people died, they cannot do so any longer. One of the most difficult issues in the new Nepal – with which Britain may be asked to help – is how to integrate more than 23,000 Maoist fighters into an army whose generals refuse to have anything to do with them.

"We are trying our best to understand democracy," he says. "Even in socialism, multi-party competition is a must. I derive this conclusion from Comrade Lenin. Just before he died, he introduced a bourgeois economic policy. If he had lived another five years, Lenin would have introduced multi-party competition." Even more heretically, he insists that the author of Soviet Communism "made many mistakes". As for the Shining Path, its way was "too one-sided – it could not mobilise the masses".

In 1996 the bloody Nepalese civil war began, sparking fighting that went on for 10 years which was believed to have killed at least 13,000 people. The Maoist rebels' multiple demands included land redistribution, equal rights for women and a communist republic.

Based in Nepal's mountains and jungles, the rebel army included both female soldiers as well as children, for which they were condemned in 2005 by the EU. A peace deal was brokered in 2006, with the rebels' arms monitored by the UN, and Prachanda declared that it marked "the end of the 238-year-old feudal system".

Despite the rebels' admiration for Chairman Mao, the Chinese Communist Party had shunned the revolution, choosing to arm the Royal Nepalese Army. Chinese officials are now more eager to forge ties with the Maoists and Prachanda has praised China's pragmatic approach to capitalism.

The Maoists have to convince non-supporters that they have transformed from guerrilla fighters into a working, democratic party. They remain on the US list of terrorist organisations.

Their youth wing, the Young Communist League, has been blamed for abduction and torture. Around 19,000 ex-rebels still live in UN-monitored camps created by Nepal's 2006 peace deal. The Maoists want them to become part of the Nepal army but the its chief disagrees.

This is what they call a bloodless revolution? Only 13,000 dead?

And why is it that all the news sites keep carefully ignoring what every single communist regime has turned out to be in the past, however nice the noises they made at the start?

Hat tip: World of Royalty.

Ambition and Politicians

Lately I have been reading a great deal about the World Wars, particularly the first. That is, I have been reading about how they changed Western civilization, how ideologues of various sorts seized the opportunity to implement their own grand schemes, and most of all, what the politicians were up to. The general impression I am coming away with is that war is indeed futile, only not for the reasons that pacifist antiwar protesters and simpleminded pop singers imagine, and that my own beloved country has indeed done some ill-advised meddling in the affairs of other nations, but the meddling most people complain about us doing isn't the ill-advised bit. (Indeed, most people who complain are staunch adherents of the bad things we've spread through the world, such as elected government and the UN, as well as the mischief of the mostly German-born but US-incubated Frankfurt School.)

Judging from what I have seen in the monarchist blogosphere, I think that most of the people reading this will probably already know what of what I speak. For those who do not, I am not going to try to summarize it here. A couple of good sources include this essay by Murray N. Rothbard; I haven't read the entire thing yet, but from what I have read he seems to be mostly on the same page as me. There is a troubling chapter in a PDF book at the Mises Institute here. Also, Mencius Moldbug proposes a relevant reading list (scroll down to the phrase "If I had to pick ten books" which precedes the list). Other good links would be appreciated.

My reason for bringing this up is that it shows rather glaringly the deficiencies of politicians as opposed to monarchs. I believe it was Mr. Peregrine Worsthorne in his excellent Democracy Needs Aristocracy who pointed out that a hereditary monarch might have about the same amount of power as a dictator, but the monarch will not behave in the same way. The dictator has been driven by burning ambition to get to where he is, likely has all sorts of chips on his shoulder and scores to settle with the world, and God knows what he has done to get to his position. Of course he is going to throw his weight around a thousand times more than some bloke who just has the job because he was born into it. There is an ancient proverb: "The world groans when a slave becomes king."

We need not raise the extreme examples of Napoleon, Hitler, and Lenin to illustrate this human tendency. Come to think of it, I think the milder example I am about to give is probably the one Mr. Worsthorne made. (I really must reread that book.) Monarchs and aristocrats are born to their positions, they are used to them, and often they are rather bored with them and see them as a matter of duty. Politicians have to expend tremendous effort to reach their positions, and once they do, having power is highly exciting to them. Even a good man will find his head turned by this novelty; indeed, one might say that a "good" politician, if I may use that phrase, is the one who is least carried away by his sudden elevation to power. In any case, anyone who wants a position in government enough to do everything he must do to attain it is clearly no one we should entrust with any power whatsoever.

So the downfall of elected government is in the ambitions of those it elects. Now, ambition is often a good thing. A society that has constructive outlets for it will benefit from it. But political power is not a constructive outlet.

A monarch knows that his country is his. In a sense, he possesses it. He sees his role as preserving it to pass on in good condition to his heirs. People take better care of things that they own and wish to pass on to their children than of things they have merely temporarily seized.

A man who becomes a president, senator, or prime minister is patently a man of great ambition. He knows he only has a few years to make his mark, and by God, he's going to make it. That is what Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were thinking, at some level, when they instituted their various domestic measures and got the U.S. involved in wars that we probably should not have been involved in, particularly the first. I am afraid that Mr. Winston Churchill was thinking the same thing, though I believe he acted more creditably - he was a "good" politician, as his head was less turned by his own position.

So President Wilson, President Roosevelt (either one), and many others over the past century did everything they could in the short time available to them to set social experiments in motion, so that decades and indeed centuries later, people all over the world would be feeling their effects. This is precisely why elected politicians should not be allowed the opportunity to do just that.

Kings wish to make their marks as well, but they almost never do rash things like make enormous changes to their nation's economy, create alphabet soups of bureaucratic agencies to meddle in its citizens' lives, create brainwashing camps to which all impressionable children must be surrendered, outlaw time-honored personal pleasures such as drinking and smoking, or maneuver to deeply involve their country in wars that are none of its business. The closest parallels I can recall are the efforts of particular monarchs of backward countries to technologically modernize their nations so that they can prosper and innovate. Here I am thinking of Louis XIV, who brought artisans of various kinds from all over Europe to make Paris the leader in good living, a position it retains to this day, and Peter the Great, who sought to introduce the new technologies being pioneered in Western Europe to Russia, as well as to do away with some of the more repressive Russian customs, such as forced marriages.

No, when kings are ambitious, apart from bringing in foreign scientists to teach native engineers, what they generally do is patronize artists, because, as Florence King pointed out, every king wants his reign to be remembered as the Age of Himself. I would much rather my head of state be occupied with finding painters to promote than in scheming how he may turn me into an ideal citizen of his ideal society.

Terence Blacker: Why we hark back to the old certainties

A left-wing British commentator has noticed a few things about his country:

For some time, there has been a population leak from middle Britain. Thousands, maybe millions, of restless, disgruntled Britons have sold up and moved abroad to somewhere with a swimming-pool, agreeable wine and surprisingly nice locals. Middle-aged, middle-class and mostly middle-brained, the emigrants are not much missed as they read up on the latest horrors of life back home in their weekly edition of the Daily Express.

Notice the cheap shot at the middle class. People who denigrate the middle class - you know, those law-abiding, ethical people who mind their own business and do most of the work - always affect to be doing so on the behalf of the oppressed lower classes. They themselves, however, are generally highly educated and well off. It's not hard to see what class they secretly see themselves as occupying. With their insincere championing of the lower class, which they plainly have no interest in joining, and their attacks on the middle class, one wonders what they have in mind. A society consisting of the impoverished lower classes and a tiny elite of them and their friends making the decisions for all, untroubled by those pesky bourgeoisie who keep expecting to be allowed to keep much of what they earn and to be consulted on affairs of state?

I don't mean to pick on Mr. Blacker in particular. I doubt he's thought it through this far, and there are thousands if not millions of other people who say much the same thing, who take the same cheap shots at the middle class without giving it a thought, just because they've heard others do it.

But now something rather more serious is happening. The foreigners are going. First it was the Poles, who had brought such energy and flair to these islands. Now, almost as seriously, Australians are packing their bags. Since last June, each month has seen an average of 2,600 immigrants from Australia to Britain returning home, an increase of almost 1,000 per month on the departure rate of the previous five years. The people who have brought a cheery dynamism to our businesses, bars and dental surgeries are deserting us.

Notice which immigrant groups are apparently not leaving.

He goes on for a bit about how confused Britain has been for most of the past half century before telling us what's bothering him:

A small but telling example of the new mood of backward-looking cultural jitteriness comes to us courtesy of the British Library. That great institution wished to mark the 10th anniversary of the move to St Pancras, and chose a peculiarly dire way of doing it. To point up its own treasures, the library will be running a poll for the public to elect the country's best-loved living characters – its national treasures.

He carries on for a bit about how terribly embarrassing this all is, then:

It is with the list of national treasures for whom we all can vote that despair sets in....

...taken together, this top 50 of national darlings suggest a national longing for comfortable authority figures. It is the sort of list which could only be compiled in a country caught uneasily between celebrity and seriousness, a collection of establishment sirs and dames who form a new media-led aristocracy. Containing a single black face (that of the Archbishop of York), it harks back to the safer days of the past.

He does not mention that among those for whom one can vote are Professor Richard Dawkins, whose religiphobia ruined a once excellent mind, and Sir Paul McCartney, who played a major role in degrading popular culture. Listing left-wing icons who have had a hand in cultural collapse isn't enough for Mr. Blacker if they're white.

Many of the names on the list mean nothing to me, though I see several actors whose work I have enjoyed, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, and Sir Patrick Moore, a special favorite of mine. I expect that if I looked up all the unfamiliar names, I would find many more people I would disapprove of entirely, who I would have expected to keep Mr. Blacker and his sort content. I am excited that "establishment" sorts were included at all.

It does not seem to occur to Mr. Blacker that he has acknowledged that the "days of the past" were indeed "safer" and that many Britons would like to go back to them, though I am sure with qualifications.

Hopes for Bhutan

Bhutan became a kingdom 101 years ago, encouraged by the British when most of the squabbling factions agreed to unite behind a monarchy. Having wrested much of Bhutan's lowlands away, the British were happy to see what was left remain independent. And there Bhutan remained, essentially in the Middle Ages, until it started, cautiously, to open up to the outside world in the 1960s. A road to India was built in 1961. An airport came in the 1980s. Television and the Internet arrived only in 1999.

Although no army waits at the gates to invade - Bhutan has more monks than soldiers - the country is nonetheless engaged in a struggle for its survival. Bhutan saw China take over Tibet, its spiritual homeland, in the 1950s. Bhutan then saw India manipulate Nepalese immigrants in neighboring Sikkim, taking advantage of the resulting unrest to annex that semi-independent kingdom in 1975. Bhutan watched Nepal's monarchy self-destruct in an orgy of murder and suicide, to be followed by a weak king, and a Maoist insurrection that this year came to power in an election that abolished the monarchy.

One Bhutanese said the other day that Nepal's monarchy, by not bending sufficiently with the times, had gone the way of the French monarchy, while Bhutan's was more like the British, adapting with the times.

And so it has. This year, the year of the earth rat on the Buddhist calendar, Bhutan became a constitutional monarchy, forming political parties, and holding mock elections to get the people used to the real elections this spring. Bhutan likes to call itself the world's newest democracy, all done without a revolution or a civil war. Bhutan's king abdicated in favor of his Massachusetts- and Oxford-educated son.

But the Bhutanese still worry, and rightfully so. Will its nascent democracy evolve in a constructive way? Or will it evolve as Pakistan's has, with parties controlled by powerful families and led by crooks? Unhappily, too much of the story of democracy in South Asia is also a story of violence and corruption.

As opposed to the story of democracy outside South Asia. Oh, wait.