Jubilee and all That 109

Have been lecturing abroad a lot lately and have frequently had to explain that, when I call myself a republican and a liberal, I mean something very close to the opposite of what those terms currently mean in U.S. English.

I have never been a monarchist at any point in the 40 plus years I have had political consciousness. The notion of hereditary rule always struck me as absurd. But I have nothing against the Queen personally, and on meeting her have found her quite likeable, even when conversing on the tricky subject of why I don’t accept “Honours”. As I have said before, if I had been born into a life of such privilege, I would probably be a much more horrible person than she. We are all to a degree intellectually and socially trapped by our circumstance of birth and social milieu. Few break out of it entirely and a minority of those that do are actuated by admirable motives.

Nor am I completely immune from either patriotism or nostalgia, not the respect that attaches to the old, particularly when they are “battling on”. So I have no doubt that I witnessed some of the televised celebrations with more of a lump in my throat than the large majority of readers of this blog.

But an excellent antidote was the BBC’s panning to the VIP box during yesterday’s Jubilee concert, particularly before the Queen was there to distract. I felt completely removed from those people in the VIP box, as though they were an alien race. Always haughty, often bored and disengaged, occasionally condescending to be amused, and from time to time self-consciously “joining in” obviously for the benefit of the cameras rather than personal enjoyment. Myriads of sleek or puffy aristocrats and politicians, they were completely other from the people who in some strange way they are supposed to represent.

From Thatcher through Blair to Cameron, the gap between rich and poor has accelerated in this country as never since the early industrial revolution. Just one indicator – boardroom income increases are outpacing worker income by around 10% every year, consistently.

I do not doubt a majority of the country felt nothing but patriotic pride at the celebrations. Patriotism is the great and indispensable instrument of social control. But as for me, in this small corner of Ramsgate, I was wondering where you buy a decent guillotine.

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109 thoughts on “Jubilee and all That

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  • Clark

    Evgueni, I agree that solutions should get discussed more, though not to the exclusion of discussing problems and the distortions in the media. I particularly liked a comment of yours some time ago in which you called for consensus-building. That’s an excellent approach; subject matter can be extracted from the chaos, and the ordered body of consensus can thereby grow.
    As to solutions, I am attracted to the Transition movement. The collapse, or at least a great decline, of the present “system” seems inevitable; I don’t think there’s much hope of fixing it in time, considering things like global heating, financial short-circuiting and depletion of the ecosystem. It would seem sensible to start building alternatives as quickly as possible.

  • Komodo

    Clark, no-one ever tortures Muslim kittens. How could you suggest otherwise? But should kittens mysteriously appear outside police stations Government buildings in currently allied countries with broken ribs and cigarette burns (allegedly) we can be certain that it is for the good of decent hardworking families wot read the Sun.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    To some Monarchy symbolises things that ought not to be celebrated, but rather be the subject of apologies, commiserations and requests for forgiveness, if there were an ounce of honesty and/or human decency:-
    1. An assumption, in times gone by of the “divine right of kings” – one section of humanity on a pedestal pissing from high on lesser beings.
    2. Inequality in an institutionalised form.
    3. Racism – which for my part – I think was a motivational factor in the hit on Diana.
    4. Historical exploitation in ways that amount to crimes against humanity, going back to John Hawkins, Francis Drake, Henry Morgan right down to the Kenyan theft of lands and across the world during the days of Empire – contributing significantly to monarchical personal wealth.
    The Al Khalifa royal family met reflections from the past when its suppression of human freedoms to the face of Her Majesty the Queen was just another normal meeting and the embodiment of global exploitation sharing interests at the dinner table of friends.
    And – the blood never dried – because it keeps running in Bahrain as its ruler dined with Her Majesty during the Golden Jubilee.
    Nothing to be romantic about – if one takes off the blinders and sees the world behind the velvet glove and old lady’s disarming smile.
    Corrupt and exploitative to the core.

  • Clark

    Courtenay Barnett: “To some Monarchy symbolises things that ought not to be celebrated, but rather be the subject of apologies, commiserations and requests for forgiveness…”
    Yes, that’s how I feel. I tried explaining that to someone yesterday. They didn’t know enough history or enough of the other side of current events to understand. In a way, it was a good opening to make some points, but I suspect that my message was so far from what they expected that they stopped taking me seriously.
    “So why did Libya do Lockerbie?”

  • Courtenay Barnett


    I think that one can simply drink tea and discuss the football results with those who are brain dead about history, public and world affairs – why fight and lose a friend.


    On the Lockerbie question – thought Libya at first – then I read some insightful comments by a Professor Black in Scotland, and the evidence does not mesh. Something rotten ( and questonable) in the state….

  • Courtenay Barnett


    Not everyone is convinced about the official story, e.g. :-

    ” Unless relevant material available to the prosecution is also made available to the defence no trial can be considered fair.
    Surely Westminster, David Miliband, the Advocate General and the Crown Office know that? They were certainly told it in no uncertain terms by Professor Hans Koechler, the UN special observer, to the trial of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi after the verdict (“How UK Government hid secret Lockerbie report”, The Herald, June 1).
    If the failure of the Crown to disclose the Jordanian document was the only such failure, perhaps one could park much of the blame onto the UK Government and its supporters.
    But we now know that the Crown Office was responsible also for the failure to pass the evidence of the Heathrow break-in to the defence until after the trial was over, despite having been in possession of it from the first month of 1989. There is the strongest of probable links between this break-in and the Jordanian’s bombs.”

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ All,

    Who elected her?

    •Choose and Dismiss the Prime Minister
    •Dismiss Ministers and the Government
    •Dissolve Parliament and call new elections
    •Refuse legislation passed by Parliament
    •Command the Armed Forces
    •Issue Proclamations
    •Raise a personal Militia
    •Read confidential intelligence and Government documents
    •Declare a State of Emergency
    •Enact Laws in Her Majesty’s name
    •Pardon convicted criminals
    •Exercise ‘Crown’ prerogatives
    •Grant and bestow Titles
    ‘THE CROWN’ is defined as “EXECUTIVE POWERS EXERCISED in the name of THE MONARCH” “

  • Mary

    The fawning Fiona Bruce who recently presented a series on royal palaces, is on BBC 1 tonuight presenting ‘a special jubilee edition of Antiques Roadshow’.
    Some mistake. I see no sign of the antique Queen and her consort, recently safely delivered of his bladder infection.
    Ms Bruce should be advised to stick to reading the news. She gets a salary of £500k.
    ‘Another cheat – Bruce set up a service company called “Paradox Productions”. Daily Telegraph journalist Stephen Adams alleged the purpose of the company is for Bruce to avoid paying the new 50p tax rate as it enables her to be employed freelance by the BBC. A number of other highly paid BBC staff also use the practice.[27] Bruce is paid approximately £500,000 per year by the BBC.[1]’
    She actually has two companies, Paradox Productions Ltd and Paradox Productions Two Ltd. ‘Radio and Television Activities’. Quite.

  • Komodo

    “So why did Libya do Lockerbie?”
    It didn’t. Keep telling you.
    And now relationships in the region have been reshuffled to the satisfaction of BP, I feel sure the BBC will be telling you in the not too distant future. Why Lockerbie? Because the US shot down an Iranian airliner in 1988. (refresh your memories here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_Air_Flight_655 ). It will no doubt be convenient to blame an Iran-sponsored Palestinian or Lebanese cell in the revised version, but while there is plenty to suggest Megrahi and his uncaptured and possibly mythical associates had nothing to do with it, hard evidence of who did is probably lacking.

  • Komodo

    This man talks sense:
    Interviewed on R4 last night for half an hour – fascinating stuff, and confirming that the UK (in roughly his words) chose to subscribe to the biggest Ponzi scheme on the planet….he concluded that bad as the Japanese economic experience of 15+ years trying to get out of its recession has been, the UK is nowhere near as competent to emerge from this one…the shitstorm is only 30% complete, and our manufacturing base is shot.
    Why Economics Is Bunk –
    Enjoy, my malenky droogies.

  • Clark

    Courtenay Barnett and Komodo, that little quote, “So why did Libya do Lockerbie?”, was a question asked by the person I was conversing with. It stymied me; I thought that most people were aware of the Lockerbie deception and at least had suspicions about the official propaganda. Suddenly I was at a loss in my conversation. I just looked up with a blank face, thinking “oh God, where do I start?”
    Mushrooms do well if kept in the dark and fed on shit.

  • Komodo

    Sorry, Clark. It’s Monday, say no more. Have a read of this succinct take on the crash…you may need to pace yourself, but it’s well-reasoned.
    If anyone is ever to defeat global capitalism, they need an economic counter-argument in accord with the facts, and this may be it.

  • Komodo

    Link worked again for me, Clark, because as I’ve already been there, the page is locally cached. A second attempt after clearing the cache confirms that this site doesn’t accept requests for sub-index pages. Some don’t, and it’s annoying.

    An interesting feature of the first graph is that it suggests that everything is just fine until US private debt reaches ~150% of GDP, everything wobbles, and positive feedback cuts in. For Australia (next graph) the threshold is much lower…cause or effect? (Now read on). I’m going to have to do a little modelling of my own, I think.

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