In the modern, democratic twenty-first century, the notion of an unelected, dynastic monarchy is not easy to defend.This new book argues that the current monarchy is by far the best system for choosing a Head of State - providing that it is understood that we are not subjects and that the monarchy are not our superiors. They are, in actual fact, our pets.
In this original eBook, John Higgs, author of the The 20th Century: An Alternative History, makes an argument in favour of the monarchy that will annoy royalists even more than it will annoy republicans. This is a tongue-in-cheek, witty examination of the persistence of monarchy in the modern world.
The gist of the book is in its title. It argues, tongue in cheek, but highly plausible nonetheless, that the British attitude to its monarchy is similar to its love of domestic animals. Something to stroke and feed. Both contribute to a national feeling of well being. Disrespectful?: no, I don’t think it is. It’s an interesting, amusingly level - headed portrayal of the national psyche which draws the conclusion that such an odd mongrel nation is rightly headed by this batty institution. It can be dreamt about, stroked, hidden behind...Even those pommy baiting Aussies have not yet shed the monarchy on the basis, it seems, that the alternative is slightly less appealing.
Here are the inevitable comparisons between the French and English attitudes to revolution and a re-telling of why they’re a republic and we’re a monarchy. Both nations killed a king, the French for double measure polished off a queen as well of course. Eleven years after the execution of Charles I however, we ‘restored’ the monarchy; the national shoulders shrugged and well….shit happens, move on.. and then the petting began - in peaks and troughs, admittedly.
The chapter headings are flavoursome eg Chapter 9 :Whales, Swans and the Problem of Charles (the future III).
Short ebook in which the author of the definitive KLF book offers a wilfully annoying but strangely compelling defence of the British monarchy by analogy to his family's objectionable cat. In typically wide-ranging fashion, he also takes in everything from the difficulties of Oliver Cromwell's position to hippy activist King Arthur Pendragon (who comes across rather well, in at least being aware of his own absurdities).
I finished this book about a week ago. I've been mulling over the question of whether, given Higg's arguments, the US of A ought to consider obtaining a pet monarch of its own.
If the U.S. does decide to get pet monarch I think the only sensible way for us to select a proper candidate would be a reality TV competition. Ideally co-hosted by Ru Paul and Oprah. The exact format will need to be refined a bit but I think at the very least there would be a dancing competition, a talent show, and maybe a rap battle about neo-Hobbesian political theory.
This system would allay one of the primary objections to the monarchy which Higgs discussed but doesn't fully resolve - that keeping a hereditary monarch is inherently cruel. Any hereditary monarch is inevitably raised in Truman Showesque pseudo-reality. The future king's "pretend power will not allow him to get heavily into obscure genres of dance music, or to stay up all night trash-talking strangers on Xbox, or spend entire weekends wearing a onesie and pretending to be a Jedi. The illusion of power and importance is all well and good, but it is no match for freedom and the ability to actually do whatever it is that you want to do."
If we do explore the idea of a U.S. monarch we'd also want to make it very clear up front that this would be a purely ceremonial role with absolutely no influence on anything important. The royal family would oversee cutting ceremonial ribbons, delivering banal addresses that no one listened to, and probably have a minor scandal every other year and a major scandal once a decade.
Back to the book itself: It's great fun and I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates the works of Thomas Hobbes, J.J. Rousseau, Jonathan Swift, David Lewis, and the staff writers of The Onion.
A 15,000 words examination of our monarchy. The conclusion is we need a head of state; a constitutional monarchy. One where their political power is mostly symbolic. The apparent reason: they form a symbiotic interdependence with their host nations. And provide a intuitive sense of historical continuity and cultural identity.
Every British person should read this. I've certainly been recommending it to all sorts of people to help toward this end. It's the most convincing monarch-related argument I've ever read, subverting the usual arguments about monarchy and rendering them almost irrelevant. Much like his book on the KLF, the author uses the frame of magic and the concrete representation of ideas as explanations for people's otherwise silly behaviour.
I wish OPQ had been a bit longer, but then it does give a tantalising taste of what may be in store when Mr Higgs publishes his upcoming history book.