Friday, 29 April 2011

Royal opiate - you'll need it

So the nuptials aren't a "state occasion", according to a spokesperson for the monarchy.  This is up there with Jesuitical casuistry as you could be forgiven for failing to see the distinction from a "private" service in one's personal chapel, the Royal Peculiar of Westminster Abbey, with most of London's police force deployed in case any of those unsporting republicans, malcontents and otherwise slightly-uppity serfs steps out of line.

The symbolism of the entire ritual is fascinating.  If this is the first manifestation of the Big Society then I am deeply frightened - the narrative that is being constructed is so majoritarian, so intolerant and so crass.  Hours of television and radio coverage, acres of tatty newsprint usually cheering on the illusion that this is a unifying, significant event, and a sub-text that those of us who don't get it should be strung up for treachery or at least disenfranchised and kept away from polluting the masses with anything approximating to rational thought.

Having been in London yesterday it was impossible to avoid the preparations and the crowds, wandering round slack-jawed and clad in artifical fibres, hoping for a glimpse of the second-in-line to an anachronistic constitutional monarchy on a day whose synethetic, saccharine "unity" is as specious as the smile on Andrew Lansley's face.  The BBC were out in force, obstructing rights of way, spending licence-fee payers' money to excess, and there were the usual gaggles of deranged American tourists, inventing a spurious historical narrative to make up for their perceived lack of national lineage.  So far, so dispiriting.

There seems to be desperation for royal "good news" - ever since Slimy Tony came out with the nauseous "people's princess" after a minor member of the aristocracy, married into the monarchy, died.  The acritical responses of the time failed to note that the unfortunate victim was no longer married to the potential monarch, and died as a result of drunken driving and the concrete reality that high-speed noctural chases across Paris do not necessarily co-exist with continued existence.  The narrative about the UK monarchy is so confused as it treats its protagonists as soap opera, while assuming that the constitutional myths around them provide a cloak of invisibility and inviolability from the mundane realities of human foibles, neuroses and derangement - an optimistic prognosis given the earlier tendency to inbreed with the right sort of royal genetics.

The apologists always argue that the alternatives are worse, and they do have a point.  The prospect of Thatcher, Blair or Cameron (let alone Major) having supreme power is always cited as the justification for maintaining a monarchic system.  So far, I agree.  However in a proper constitutional set-up, such as that pioneered by the US and the French, the separation of powers means that there is no fictional "Crown" in whose name the State can do more or less what it wants, and which denies the basic constitutional rights of the citizenry.  The "citizen not subject" discussion remains relevant today, and the asinine hyping of the wedding demonstrates why.

When there is no effective argument marshalled against the rights of the citizen, the determined royal lickspittle then resorts to the economic benefits.  Apart from the natural-fibre-free Septics alluded to above, who might be lured by the sight of the restricted gene pool, it is hard to argue that the tourist industry has suffered in countries where the head of state is at least nominally the choice of their citizenry.  Does the absence of the Bourbons undermine the number of tourists going to Versailles?  Most of the Windsors' wealth has emerged from at best dubious business practices and backstairs deals between the governments of the day, and they can't expect to go on taking from the state and retain private wealth - perhaps the first act of a reforming government would be to offer a deal of either expropriating their private wealth and putting them on a stipend related to a multiple of benefit payments, or removing the state subsidy.

So long as we have tuft-hunters, nostalgics and the kind of simpering imbeciles who believe that the worldview of the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegrah is in some way aspirational, the debate on the modernisation of the state will be skewed on an emotional, reflexive "patriotism".  So the aim has to be to get through the next couple of days, and then to keep plugging away at the edifices.

I note that Transport for London have issued a special nuptial Oyster card.  Let us hope that it is prepared to issue the twin-set in time for the Royal Divorce.  And that we get a bank holiday to celebrate.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.