Editorial – neither monarchy nor republic but socialism
Many UK people will have struggled last month to escape the stadium-volume hullabaloo as the superannuated CEO of The Firm finally hung up her tiara and departed from her pampered life of ‘devoted service’, triggering a long-prepared barrage of nauseating hagiographies, crocodile tears and posturing TV gravitas. At least workers got an extra bank holiday out of it, which helped put the fun back into ‘state funeral’. Meanwhile certain activists, as reported in the Guardian, were keeping a very low profile, for fear of being trolled, cancelled or petrol bombed for the political viewpoint that, for the time being anyway, dared not speak its name: republicanism, the quest for the abolition of the monarchy (bit.ly/3B7aRzQ). And this despite membership applications for Republic getting a sudden big boost, amid breathless speculation that, while Madge’s invincible popularity had stomped good and hard on those pesky anti-royalist weeds, the ascension of the royal Plant Whisperer might have the opposite effect on grass-roots republicanism, and see it shoot up to new and historic Beanstalk heights.
Socialists have a strong aversion to doffing their caps to anyone, especially to someone who thinks they’re superior because their ancestors wore beads in their hair and stole all the common land. We have every sympathy for people who see the monarchy as an absurd and anachronistic feudal cult which fetishises the class system and should have stayed lopped off at the time of the first King Charles. Historians will scratch their heads and wonder how supposedly rational people thought a bejewelled dynastic blow-up doll had any place in an advanced and civilised society. The only problem is, this isn’t an advanced and civilised society, and abolishing the monarchy wouldn’t make it one either. It would merely result in the same capitalist system of brutal class exploitation with some other figurehead at the top, leaving the super-rich class of narcissistic yacht-fanciers entirely free to go about their business of laying waste to the planet.
The monarchy is about as relevant to the lives of working people as Cowes Week or the final rubbish season of Game of Thrones. It may be a relic from the feudal period, but so are umbrellas and Morris Dancing. We say, instead of spending your waking hours trying to get to where you already are, minus a bit of silly made-up ritual, better to devote time to the vastly more important task of promoting the idea that graces the cover and forms the theme of this special issue: what we mean by socialism. Because socialism is all about where humans can go in the future, once we’ve broken the armlock that the money and market system puts us all in. Would there be kings and queens in this socialist future? Absolutely, in historical re-enactments or period film sets, at fancy dress parties, in chess and on the decks of playing cards, and in fairy stories of long ago and far away.