Positive Republicanism

Buckingham Palace

I’ve hinted at anti-monarchist views on here before. There’s a lot I could say about why I don’t find the tourism argument for the monarchy convincing, the ‘imagine we didn’t have a monarchy and someone was using your arguments to make the case for one’ argument, the link to Empire, clearing homeless people away from royal events like they’re human rubbish, etc.

But I’m putting all those arguments aside for now.

Republicanism (by which I mean just ‘wanting to not have a monarchy’) is often met with comments about how royal weddings, births, and such are cheerful events that bring people together, something in the news that isn’t glum or scary for a change. The anti-monarchist’s ‘piss off, who cares, they’re only people grow up’ reaction is preaching to the converted – to people who approve of the monarchy, we can come across as downers.

My aim here is to point at a positive vision of republicanism, to show that it isn’t just about tearing down something other people enjoy.

If you have warm feelings for the royal family as people, then you should want to scrap the monarchy for their sake. It isn’t good for someone to grow up in an unblinking media spotlight because of who their parents are, or to have a stark division drawn between them and the masses. Even other children of famous people don’t have so many of their photos in the tabloids, every life event reported on and analysed by media correspondents specifically focused on their family.

A standard republican sentiment is to abhor unearned privilege, which I do very much agree with, but a different angle could be freeing children from this maelstrom. In time the cameras would turn away, and it would be easier for them to take part in society as normal people without an entourage.

If you want positive events to bring people together, monarchy is not necessary for that. Millions of Brits really don’t care for them anyway. It shouldn’t be that difficult for the United Republic to come up with a regular event that actually does bring people together. Like, the Pride of Britain Awards exist now and are quite good. Yearly, celebrating the deeds of normal people nominated by normal people, much less divisive than royal events. That’s one idea that already exists, which we could possibly expand on.

Also, one of my issues with the level of fuss around royal weddings and births is its implicit devaluing of normal people’s. A stranger’s good news should be a cheerful thing whether they’re descended from historical-so-and-so or not, right? Their ancestry shouldn’t matter.

When I say of a royal event, ‘they’re only people’, I’m not saying to not be happy about the good news of strangers. Part of what I’m really saying is, ‘we should take some of this fervour and spread it on anybody’s good news.’ Ordinary people in their masses have nice things going on far more than any single family, and are just as important. Scrapping the monarchy doesn’t imply never celebrating things.

Getting rid of the monarchy wouldn’t, as some might fear, rob us of history: the buildings and artifacts would still exist, and be even more accessible to tour around. But it would be a positive step for our national identity in the future. Joining everyone else in Current Year in letting go of this vestige of feudalism.

Do we want to be a country where someone can be head of state because of a line of succession, where some are born with titles; or a country committed to ideals of democracy and equality? Of course republicanism alone doesn’t forge an egalitarian utopia – cough, the US – but letting go of the monarchy would have a profound symbolic power.

It would indicate a shift in the national spirit. Not a denial or forgetting of history, but a moving forward from it. The idea that we are all human beings born with the same status and dignity doesn’t mix well with maintaining an official aristocracy. Which is more inspiring?

And if we must have a national anthem, we could have a much better one.

There’s a lot more I could say about my issues with monarchy. But hopefully this post has shown that republicanism isn’t just a sneer club for cynics who hate weddings and kids. It’s perfectly consistent with a warm and humanitarian outlook.

5 thoughts on “Positive Republicanism

  1. An interesting angle for considering. Ask the last ten most powerful people in the World who they were actually thrilled to have met and a pound to sixpence it would be QE 2. As an unbiased confidante our Prime Ministers would also vouch for the same person. John.

    Like

  2. We is the USA are stuck with institutions we’d never adopt if we didn’t have them, but which we can’t get rid of. The Electoral College is just one example, and it provides a lot less enjoyment than your Monarchy.

    Liked by 2 people

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