Before the Tea Party, before Ford Nation, there was the Monarchist League, a collection of sad authoritarian fetishists who wanted to exterminate any further efforts to render Canada free from the British Crown. They were as rabid, vicious, pernicious and determined as the Ayn Rand followers of today that have crystallized into the Tea Party of the United States, and the Ford Nation of Toronto. Their degenerate influence still lingers, and have since the 1970’s gained prominence and control in our nation’s schools, governments and civil services, spreading their anti-democratic slobber far and wide across Upper North America.
What is disappointing is the incredible lack of strong Canadian republican voices in the political and information arena who are loud and proud about their ideas and willing to fight for them. The only republicans who have managed to say anything about the monarchy or monarchists are insufferable modest home rule advocates who are only interested in debate and not real change, and treat monarchy the same way some folks treat evolution: as a controversy. First of all, there’s no controversy. Monarchy doesn’t represent the people. A republic with an elected head of state and legislature does. A country with a “constitutional monarchy” is only half-democratic. Representatives are supposed to get the consent of someone they supposedly represent in order to represent them. When it comes to representing a body of people, they choose or “elect” that representative. How in the holy fuck royalists consider any form of royalty to represent the people should be beyond the reasonable thinking of any decent human being on the face of the earth. Sometimes it takes a revolution to initiate real change and a republican revolution of independence must be initiated. Monarchy is not democratic, and must be totally destroyed.
So I’ve read a rather disgusting article about the monarchy, called The Monarchy Debate Is Missing A Piece Of The Puzzle, in the Huffington Post by a South African emigre named Johanu Botha. And by disgusting I mean it’s centrist moderate monarchist garbage. It claims that the debate is missing something, and that something turns out to be one of the stupidest questions imaginable.
During a Montreal citizenship ceremony in the autumn of 2011, an American friend of mine surreptitiously snuck up the aisle to snap pictures as — hand over heart — I became a citizen of the country I had lived in since 2002. A bright history major, he had no problem paying tribute to a ritual not his own. Until, that is, it was time to pledge allegiance to the Queen, Canada’s constitutional monarch and head of state.
It begins with an autobiographical story, the kind Obama would use in his speeches to galvanize the gullible before screwing them with a big thick knife in the ass because he’s just so nice to the GOP, in order to have the audience gain some emotional attachment to what he’s about to say.
My American friend loved the themes of multiculturalism, immigrant success stories, and general tolerance not always found so generously in his own country. Yet swearing loyalty to an unelected elderly lady was too much for even his open mind. And until a year before my ceremony, it might’ve been too much for me as well.
So he’s one of those folks who thinks that an “open mind” means to accept whatever one’s told without that important filter of rational thought, reason, or logic. To have an open mind, to this guy, is to accept “knowledge” in any form, however irrational, ignorant, misleading or false, without questioning.
I grew up a very Afrikaans kid in a South African town that was very Afrikaans. This meant being raised on the horrors of British dominance over Afrikaners, with Boer War concentration camps described in vivid detail (the horrors of Afrikaner dominance over Africans were conveniently glossed over). Despite the more moderate and politically tentative English friends at school, my young perspective on the British Crown was remarkably similar to that still etched into the American political consciousness — the Crown was something to be constantly rejected and thrown off in order to maintain a sense of freedom.
Because the idea that you can’t either choose your leaders or become chosen as leader is something to embrace and only Americans are in favour of choosing your government. And apparently Boethe seems to ignore the fact that Aparteid had existed. His town was very Afrikaans because blacks and “coloureds” wouldn’t be allowed to live in their town. The black people had their place, coloureds had their place, and all whites had their place, which were put on top, while the rest were left the crumbs.
What happened to my perspective in Canada after my family moved here was something that has happened in this country since the Fathers of Confederation themselves came to it as a mere colony: I moved from a republic to a monarchy and found more real freedom in the latter. In the early 19th century Irish nationalist Thomas D’arcy McGee fled his homeland to trumpet expansive republicanism in the young United States. Indeed, this founder to be of Canadian confederation declared that “either by purchase, conquest, or stipulation, Canada must be yielded by Great Britain to this Republic [the United States].”
Apparently, there’s no real explanation as to how exactly there was real freedom in the latter. He just suddenly cuts to a rambling piece about McGee. Did he immigrate to Canada during or after Apartied? Is putting Afrikaaners in concentration camps the only thing that made him hate the British? Where are the black people, Botha? They’re not mythical creatures.
The best kind of political fervour, however, requires tangible improvement in peoples’ lives, and he therefore quickly grew disheartened by Boston and New York. Richard Gwyn writes that:
“McGee grew restive in [the United States]. Its practice of slavery disgusted him, as did, more personally, the anti-Irish bigotry of the anti-immigrant Know Nothing movement. McGee came north to Montreal in 1857 and to his astonishment found there, after all his years fighting the English, ‘far more liberty and tolerance enjoyed by those in Canada than in the U.S.’”
Then, four years later, the American Civil War broke out, which rightfully proved that sometimes a little bloodshed is necessary for radical change. In the end, slavery was abolished and the United States stood triumphant in the end reunified and remained as a republic. Jim Crow laws indeed had replaced the slave laws, but it took dedicated people, men and women, of all colours who even lost their lives, to abolish those, and ensure that the Bill of Rights applied equally to everyone at every single corner of the United States. Meanwhile, we didn’t officially have a Bill of Rights until the 1950’s, and even still there are elements of the Charter of Rights that are questionable, such as the Not Withstanding Clause. So there is a difference between cultural attitudes and government policy.
Similarly, I found in 21st century Canada a political arrangement with an incredible capacity to accommodate differences. It paradoxically accepted separatist elected representatives in the national House of Commons, its immigration policy actively supported the identity with which immigrants arrived, its social policies were decidedly more progressive than its freedom-trumpeting southern neighbour, and its relationship with First Nations — while fraught with elements of dysfunction — had a history of treaty negotiations that provided glimmers of hope for the future.
Yet the Crown itself had no influence at all considering any these developments. It’s a blind rubber-stamping puppet of Parliament, regardless of whatever party was in power. Botha is blind to the fact that a recent bill restricting voting was passed and, without any input by our unelected absentee head of state, will become law next month. Treaty negotiations have also been fraught with corruption, and their ratification have been fraught with voting irregularities.
What role, if any, does the monarchy play in all of this? First, a head of state not directly elected by ‘the people’ tends to avoid the sort of populist impulses that can so heavily flirt with xenophobic nationalism. Second, a non-partisan head of state embodies the hopes, dreams, and security of person for every citizen, and is not just representative of the group that votes for him or her (a Presidential Office may in the abstract represent all, but it is always occupied by a partisan politician).
The first “role” that Botha spews out may not spell it out, but he does tease Godwin’s law, this myth that Adolf Hitler, who hated democracy and was supported by the German monarchists, was elected. Let’s be clear: Hitler was never elected (and no royalist ever specifies exactly what was he supposedly elected to) but was appointed Chancellor of Germany thanks to an aging yet firm monarchist named Hindenburg and another monarchist named von Papen in an attempt to control someone who would inevitably become the Teutonic reincarnation of Pharaoh. In other words, the monarchists in Germany helped summon the Third Reich, just as the monarchists in Italy backed Mussolini. Also, Botha is echoing an age-old anti-democratic mantra, that the people are too stupid to govern themselves, that they’re incredibly impulsive. This would be true … under a direct democracy, where people themselves govern directly rather than representatives that they elect to govern for them, to make decisions for them provided that the rights of the individual is protected by law. Also, a democracy, especially a representative one, cannot function without a sound education system that would be mandatory for all citizens to enrol. Freedom isn’t free, especially of obligations are to be properly and soundly educated. People are unwilling to educate themselves, and those who try without proper guidance often become conspiracy theorists or conservatives or worse, which is why the state should be obligated to educate the people. Further, populist impulses don’t flirt with xenophobic nationalism (unless your culture is xenophobic and racially “aware”), and Botha never explains how it does. In fact, populist impulses leans against xenophobic nationalism and toward economic and social needs. People want good jobs, good wages, time with their family, and to have their lives, liberty and property protected by good laws. While the qualifications for President can be changed for the better, the qualifications for monarchy can’t. Nevermind this having to do with the sex of the first-born. Changing that doesn’t make monarchy any better. It’s a way to ensure only whites are heads of state, regardless of who their puppet is in Canada, such as Michelle Jean.
Third, the steady distancing between the monarch and policy-making (versus revolution) has produced a political culture quite comfortable using the tools of government should it yield better policy outcomes. The United States, in contrast, has a curiously adversarial relationship with its democratic government, as if it constantly needs to be fought rather than instrumentalized. This has led to some of the most ineffective policies — see health care and gun control — among developed countries, and — ironically — it hasn’t led to a lean, efficient bureaucracy.
People are going to disagree with each other all the time. There will always be partisanship about one idea or another. Economics, religion, politics, philosophy—like an asshole, everyone has an opinion about them. People are always going to fight each other one way or another. The reason that we have what remains of our healthcare system and effective gun control, while the Americans don’t, is not because of monarchy, but because of ordinary citizens from all walks of life were fighting tooth and nail to get those things established in Canada. The monarch had no part in it whatsoever. In fact, by doing nothing and saying nothing, she’s condoning it, and considering the elitist and reactionary and imperialistic nature of monarchs, she probably would’ve preferred the total opposite, to ensure her peasant subjects paid for their own healthcare and bought their own guns lest they were used to oppose her royal police or soldiers. She probably would’ve preferred if there were no politicians to represent any of the ignorant, unwashed peasantry, or wouldn’t have minded limiting the vote to the highborn few. This demonstrated by her doing nothing.
And fourth, the relationship between First Nations and the Crown has often been healthier than that between First Nations and the Canadian state. Indeed, when I contacted a PhD student studying Canadian-Indigenous relations to get his thoughts on this blog he noted that one of the concerns of a Canadian republic is that it will handle treaties in the historical manner of the federal government and not the Crown, the latter being perceived as more just.
Yet Botha never provides examples or explains how the latter is perceived as “more just.” He ignores the fact that the actions of the Canadian Government are done not in the name of the Canadian state but in the name of the Canadian Crown. Furthermore, let’s explain something here: the British monarch represents imperialism, of colonialism. The natives in this pretend country have been colonized, and have been subjected to the brunt of imperialism. The treaties not only have done little to their benefit, but have also prevented us from moving forward as a country.
The question Canadians should ask as they continue to debate the monarchy in this country is: how to square the institutional benefits of a non-partisan Head of State with the monarchy’s obvious democratic deficit? The discourse often focuses on the value of taxpayer’s money versus the historical importance of the Queen or old school affection for the individual royal personalities versus grassroots democrats. While these are important debates to have, the institutional contribution of non-partisan governmental machinery should be carefully assessed when contemplating the monarchy’s abolishment.
You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole because monarchy isn’t democratic. To try to make the monarchy democratic would be to try and teach both creationism and evolution in a fucking science class! “Intelligent design” or whatever its name is the wolf of creationism disguised as science. If we want real democracy, sever the ties to the British Crown, and absolve ourselves of all and any allegiances to it, and stamp out all other versions of it at the lower levels of government. The discourse that places the value of taxpayer’s money over democracy has the echoes of Ayn Rand, who hated democracy simply because of a childhood trauma she suffered in Russia when she saw mobs running rampant through the streets when it transitioned from one form of dictatorship to another. These sort of people place more value on money, on their on wallets, than in any form of human dignity or public service. And on this whole idea that the head of state should be non-partisan couldn’t be any more stupid. Non-partisanship should only be reserved for the courts. The monarchy isn’t non-partisan because that it allows only family members to inherit the crown, and denies Canadian citizens to either access it or have a say in who should be head of state. As the office of President is owned by the people where anyone can access it, the “office” of monarch isn’t an office at all but private property that is owned by one person and their family, no matter how many times royalists attempt to rehash or rebrand it or “reinvent it.” The head of state isn’t a supreme court justice and doesn’t preside over any court proceedings. Nor should it. Monarchy also doesn’t embody the hopes and dreams of every citizen because it doesn’t allow citizens to become head of state, nor should even an elected head of state embody the hopes and dreams of everyone considering that no one would elect any fascist, racist, intellectually infirm or psychologically unstable person to office considering the hopes and dreams of such deviants are the stuff of nightmares.