fragments of an attempted writing.

extra value royals...

With the recent wedding blogdom has been full of conversation about monarchy. One conservative friend, John, linked to this post defending the monarchy as an explicitly reactionary act.  I've never understood how intelligent conservative friends would take this Taki site seriously but never mind that.  They almost certainly don't understand why I read some of the things I read.

The post in question gives the usual simplistic attack against vague notions of progress painted ever so heinous, and offers a smug defense of what is asserted to be a reactionary posture.

But the entire premise here is absolute bunk.  Here is why: the self-proclaimed reactionaries are not reacting against some sort of 'progress' they don't like in a vacuum.  To choose against their disdained 'progress' does not result in the conservation of anything.  Why?  Well read Marx on the nature of capital again.   Nothing gets conserved in the end in a capitalist schema.  At least not actually preserved.  You might still have castles and princesses, but they will all be the Disneyland sort soon enough, until Disneyland is replaced by something more economically expedient, which usually does not take long.

Case in point.  I read an article last week in which the reporter was quoting some figure representing the Royal Family talking about what value the Royal Family was to the U.K.  He specifically stated that they were not trying to 'offer' the cheapest Royal Family, but to offer a Royalty that 'provided the greatest value.'  In other words, he was defending why the, say, corporation that is the UK, would keep the brand that is the Royal Family.  His language and argument were blatant and unapologetic in its affirmation of the legitimacy of the monarchy based on its economic value.  I went to find this article to link to it and I could not find it.  Before you get suspicious, let me assure you that the reason I could not find it is because there are so many articles out there making the same exact argument.  Just google "royal family good value" or "monarchy good value" sometime.  You will see that since the 90s this has been the line of official Royal Family spokespersons.  This article is typical and shows that the exact language used last week was being used in 2005.

What this means, of course, is that progress has occurred.  The Royal Family used to exist and be defended on the basis of a concept of divine right.  Later in modernity that changed to a monarchy that was maintained because of human traditions and a social utilitarianism - the belief that the Royals provide a civic stability to the commonwealth.  But this notion has now transitioned into the Royals as a brand which offers the nation great value.  The people invest 37 million quid in the Royals, and in return British corporations get hundreds of millions in 'profits' made from tourism (some of which is supposed to trickle down in the fanciful world of Friedman economics) and perhaps there is some economic benefit from what moderate social stability might come from having a monarchy.  If I might be a tad simplistic here, the change went from the people serving the monarchy, to the monarchy serving the nation-state, to the monarchy unapologetically serving the interests of global Capital.

The tradition that is being reinforced here - the sense of identity being fostered, is that human worth and even human tradition are subject to market valuation.  That is what modern monarchies have become.  And until contemporary monarchists see this, their 'reaction' will be nothing more than a progression toward the means and ends of global capital.  It's not a question of change or no change.  It is a question of this: in the midst of inevitable change, whose side are you on?  To be a monarchist in such a setting is simply to be one who supports global capital via the royal brand you happen to be fond of.


  1. Have you read James Rinehart's 'The Tyranny of Work: Labour and the Alienation Process'; if so, is it worth reading? Thanks.


  2. If I were to single out one text-only post (so far) that justified this blog's existence, it would be this one.

  3. Although your earlier post on Bill Gates does come pretty close.

  4. JLB, I used to think the gorgeous photo of the blog's author enough to justify the blog's existence. Now you have me second guessing that.

  5. The bald Mexican02 May, 2011 05:32

    Monarchists and libertarians are the useful tragic clowns of global finance capital. They are nostalgic for the pre-capitalist social order, or a state without the militarism, or a state that doesn't prosecute people for smoking pot, and yet when the rubber hits the road, it is all about busting unions, taking away social programs, and giving money to imperialist wars (with a heavy heart, no doubt). Also, taking a few swipes at women and gays just to make themselves feel better about it all. Revolutions kill people in a short period of time; reactionaries let the police and imperialist military do the job, over a long period of time.

    Everyone knows what the game is really like. Those who play the game best are the ones who pretend that it isn't a game at all.

  6. "JLB, I used to think the gorgeous photo of the blog's author enough to justify the blog's existence. Now you have me second guessing that."

    Well, I *did* restrict my observation to text-only posts. :)


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