Editorial – Queen Capital’s jubilee

Capitalism, as we have pointed out many times, is a class-divided society, where there is a capitalist class who own the means of production and derive their wealth from the working class, who own no or little property and are forced to work for a wage or salary. Huge disparities in wealth and income between the two classes are the inevitable outcome. In the UK, the most visible manifestation of this class divide is the royal family, who sit at the apex of the class system. They own large palaces and tracts of land around the country and enjoy luxurious lifestyles, whereas workers live a more frugal existence and have to live in more modest dwellings, in many cases slum housing.

This month the state is holding the queen’s platinum jubilee, celebrating that the monarch has been 70 years on the throne. Showy events, naff TV programmes and local street parties will inevitably be organised. This occasion is an opportunity to reinforce the idea that privilege and hierarchy are part of the natural order of things and to encourage deference among workers towards their superiors. It will also be a festival of nationalism and patriotism, so whether you are a worker struggling on low pay or benefits or you are a billionaire, you can take pride in your great British ‘heritage’.

These celebrations are coming at a time when workers are facing the biggest cost of living crisis for decades. There are royalist supporters who would argue that people need to be cheered up in these hard times. No doubt, a worker who is facing a choice between eating or heating their home will be thrilled to watch some sycophantic arselicker on the television droning on about how wonderful the queen and her family are. The capitalist state has graciously allowed the workers an extra day off from their daily toil. How very generous.

Some opponents of royalty, including some on the left, complain that the royal family leeches off the taxpayers and that they should be made to pay their fair share of tax. This misses the point somewhat as the tax burden falls on the capitalist class, not the working class. The royals derive their wealth and privileges not from any tax advantages but, as with the rest of the capitalist class, from the surplus value created by the working class.

Some groups, like Republic, advocate the replacement of the monarchy with an elected head of state. This would make no material difference to the lives of workers, as the basis of capitalist society, with its pursuit of profit and exploitation of labour, would remain unchanged. We can see this clearly in countries that do have an elected head of state. In France for example, there have been strikes by public sector workers and protests by the gilets jaunes movement and in the USA there has been industrial action among the Walmart workers. In both countries, poverty exists alongside riches, as in the UK.

So the solution is not merely abolishing the royal family, but the economic system upon which their power and privileges are based. A system that exploits and oppresses workers and is responsible for the climate crisis. We argue that the world’s workers need to organise democratically to replace it with socialism, a world of free access and common ownership. Anyway – enjoy your extra day off.

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