50 Years Ago: King Capital’s Coronation
A king is to be crowned. In the presence of Our Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Premiers of the five Dominions of “our” Mighty Empire, and the assembled Monarchs of many lands, and the Lord God of Israel and the Stock Exchange himself.
It is commonly believed that “royal” power is the attribute of the monarch of a constitutional country, but nothing could be further from the truth. That question our capitalist masters fought out many years ago. They have left the King his name and his robes, his crown and his palaces, but they have stripped him of every vestige of power. The “Crown” is not the King, in any capacity, but the capitalist State. The King’s Speech to Parliament is written by his Ministers, even the prerogative of mercy is not the King’s but belongs to the capitalist Cabinet.
Even the swearing to uphold the institutions of capitalism is all bunkum and make-believe. There is today, in this country at all events, no institution of capitalism that the capitalists themselves are not fully able to maintain, or that they trust to other hands than their own.
This is the real use of Monarchs in capitalist States. Behind the person of the King the capitalists can hide the fact that it is they in reality who rule. By parading their kings before the workers at every possible opportunity, and with every circumstance of pomp and display that their ingenuity can invent, by investing them with divine right and something of divinity itself, the capitalists awaken and simulate and nurture that spirit of reverence, which is so deadly an enemy to the growth of revolutionary ideas, and so detract attention from themselves.
[From the Socialist Standard, June, 1911.]