Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert gather around their
Christmas tree with their children, from the
Illustrated London News, 1848

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Happy St. Andrew's Day!

Today is the 30th of November, the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, the patron saint of Scotland. This is a particularly significant St. Andrew's Day because it is the first since Scotland voted in September to remain a member of the United Kingdom, rather than risking separation under Alex Salmond.

St. Andrew was not a Scot himself, of course. Indeed, among the patron saints of the British Isles only Wales' and Ireland's patron saints, St. Patrick and St. David, ever lay foot in the nations they are now indelibly linked with, and only St. David was born in the country now under his patronage. England's St. George was a Roman soldier, whilst St. Andrew himself was a Judean, the brother of St. Peter and one of Christ's apostles. The story of how Andrew became associated with the Scottish nation is a long and curious one. For the most part, the saint is associated more with the East than with the windswept western European country of Scotland; it is alleged that after Jesus' death and resurrection, Andrew preached in the lands of Scythia to the north-east, travelling through today's Ukraine and Russia and reaching as far north as Novgorod, according to the Chronicle of Nestor, a history of the Kievan Rus' written by the Orthodox monk Nestor the Chronicler. He was also said to have founded the See of Byzantium (later known as Constantinople) in 38 AD. Today he is revered as the patron saint of Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

In c. 70 AD, Andrew was martyred by crucifixion in the city of Patras, Archaia, Greece. Early sources say he was bound to a cross like the one on which Jesus died, but later the story grew up that he had requested that he be crucified on an Crux decussata, or an x-shaped cross, feeling unworthy of being martyred in the same way as his Lord. The request was granted, and today this sort of cross is known as St. Andrew's Cross. According to legend, St. Andrew's relics were initially kept at the city where he was martyred, Patras, before the famed Roman Emperor Constantine I conquered the city and had them transferred to Constantinople. However, the monk St. Regulus was warned of Constantine's invasion by an angel in a dream, and so on the angel's instructions, Regulus took some of the relics to the "ends of the Earth" for safety. He was to build a shrine for the relics wherever he was first shipwrecked; and, as fortune (or God's will) would have it, he was shipwrecked on the coast of Fife in Scotland, where he met the Pictish King Óengus I. Today, the relics are said to be housed in St. Regulus' Church in the town of St Andrews, Scotland.

In 832 AD, it is said that King Óengus II of the Picts led a joint army of Scots and Picts into battle against the Angles under the leadership of King Æthelstan. Before the battle, the Pictish King prayed for divine intercession to aid the Picts against their numerically superior English foes, and promised that if he was victorious he would name St. Andrew the patron saint of Scotland. On the day of the battle, the clouds above the battlefield formed the shape of St. Andrew's cross; emboldened by the apparent favour of the divine, the Picts and the Scots took to the battlefield full of religious zeal and defeated the much larger army of the Angles. Óengus kept his promise, proclaiming St. Andrew the patron saint of Scotland, and adopted the white cross against the sky's blue background as the new national flag of Scotland.

Like much of Scotland's national myth, this story casts the English in the role of villains; I confess to finding this both sad and amusing at the same time. It is, however, all the more amusing and touching that today, over a millennium after that legendary victory is said to have taken place, St. Andrew's saltire and St. George's cross now coexist as part of the flag of the United Kingdom. Britain's national story is one of former foes laying down arms and uniting for the greater good, and shows that the most Christian of messages- that love and cooperation between neighbours can achieve more than war, hatred and distrust ever could- really is gospel truth. God bless Scotland and the United Kingdom.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Remember, remember...

King James VI and I
Today is the 5th November, the day loyal British subjects celebrate the failure of Guy Fawkes' plot to assassinate His Majesty James VI and I, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, at the State Opening of Parliament in 1605. "Remember, remember," the old rhyme goes, "the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot; I know of no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot." Certainly, the Gunpowder Plot has never been forgotten, although today the holiday is generally treated more as an occasion for revelries than a celebration of our then-King's survival; on the plus side, although the 5th is today more about fireworks and bonfires than treason it has shed most of the anti-Catholic aspects of its celebration in the past. Most people now associate the "guy" being burned on the bonfire with Guy Fawkes himself, though clever clogs will tell you it was originally supposed to represent the Pope- that old rhyme goes on to say, "a rope, a rope, to hang the Pope, a penn'orth of cheese to choke him, a pint of beer to wash it down, and a jolly good fire to burn him."

Cover of the 1980s graphic
novel V for Vendetta.
While few mourn the deserved death of anti-Catholic prejudice in the UK (although it appears to be making a comeback among secular liberals incensed at the Church's refusal to admit its teachings over the last 1,000+ years have been wrong and join the secular humanist brigade, and in Northern Ireland it has sadly never gone away), I for one find it disturbing that the original meaning of the holiday- celebrating the King's safety- has become so twisted. The graphic novel and 2006 film adaptation V for Vendetta played a role in this; featuring a terrorist wearing a Guy Fawkes mask who fights against an evil, fascist government in an alternate history version of the United Kingdom, the franchise celebrates Guy Fawkes as "a great citizen" who wished to "remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives." And so a religious terrorist who aimed to kill hundreds and establish a Catholic police state in the place of a Protestant police state becomes a hero of liberty, with "Guy Fawkes masks" becoming associated with groups such as the Occupy "movement" and the online "hacktivist" group Anonymous. In 400 years' time, I wonder if anyone will be wearing Osama bin Laden masks and celebrating the 9th September.

Children in the UK still learn the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot from a young age, and recently the holiday has experienced a rise in popularity. Although I was more of a Halloween fan as a child, sweets and costumes somewhat lose their appeal as one gets older, whilst fireworks remain as spectacular as ever- and how could a monarchist resist a holiday celebrating the King's survival of a coup d'état? Certainly, Halloween in its modern form is predominantly an American export, whilst the 5th November is a homegrown holiday and the closest thing the UK has to a national day- so it's patriotic to celebrate it, too. Hopefully this holiday will endure, as will the story of Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators; but the most important thing to remember on the 5th November is that we are celebrating not the conspirators but their failure, and above all else today is a day to celebrate the triumph of the legitimate government over a terrorist plot.

Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Tragedy in Canada

This week, tragedy unfolded in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, where a gunman shot and murdered a soldier serving as an honour guard at a war memorial before storming Canada's parliament building. The gunman, identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was himself shot by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers before he could harm anyone inside the parliament building. My thoughts go out to Cpl Nathan Cirillo, the soldier who gave his life in these most unlikely of circumstances, and to his family; the shooting calls up memories of Drummer Lee Rigby's murder in 2013. In both cases, men who risked their lives in the service of their country were cut down in cold blood not on some foreign battlefield but at home in the nations they served, a tragic irony that must make many of their colleagues worry about their own safety. Then as now, the implication seems to be that these two men were singled out simply because they wore military uniform.

Zehaf-Bibeau was a 32 year old Canadian subject of Her Majesty the Queen; his mother was Canadian, his father originally from Libya. He was reportedly a convert to Islam with a criminal record and past convictions for drug use, violence and "other criminal activities." Like many young people, he seems to have had a fairly comfortable upbringing before loosing his way in later life and becoming radicalised; his story has chilling echoes of those of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, Drummer Rigby's murderers, as well as that of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the brothers responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings, also last year. It seems that Canada now joins the United Kingdom and the United States as victims of Islamic terrorism. The question Western societies must ask themselves is, why are so many young people being pulled into the trap of Islamic extremism? Or, indeed, any other kind of extremism?

The unfortunate truth is that people whose lives go wrong will always look for two things; hope, in the form of a cause, and someone to lay the blame on. Radical Islam provides a cause, and it gives these people something to blame in the form of "decadent," "sinful" Western society. I make no apologies for being a realist, and I do not believe that society will ever reach a stage where all people are well-adjusted, decent citizens, but even so, it seems that occurrences like these are becoming worryingly frequent. These aren't petty criminal acts, but terrorist activity, committed with the sole intention of causing panic and fear in order to forward the cause of the perpetrators. How can countries such as Canada minimise the risk of terrorist activity?

Well, the first thing that must be said is that draconian surveillance measures as proposed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper following the attack on parliament are not the perfect solution. I can tell you that the United Kingdom is now one of the world's most watched countries thanks to the surveillance brought in under the previous Labour government, and the impact on crime has been negligible. The root of the problem is social; for one thing, the onus is at least in part on the Islamic community to counter the influence of radicals within their community. That the vast majority of Muslims are perfectly decent, hardworking and upright citizens I do not doubt, but the voice of this overwhelming majority is often quieted by the actions of extremists. Muslims in the Western world should be encouraged to speak out against extremism at every opportunity. Mosques and madrasas where radical clerics are allowed access to susceptible young people should be mercilessly pursued and shut down.

What's more, a reassertion of traditional religion in Canada would go a long way to filling the spiritual void in many modern Canadians' lives. As C.S. Lewis said, "spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison." A Canada that asserts its national identity, promotes patriotism and faith, and offers its citizens a positive "cause" will find it far easier to wage a culture war against radicalism than a Canada based on fluffy and shallow ideals such as "freedom," "multiculturalism" and "individualism." People turn to Islamism because they are looking for an identity. I say, offer them a better one- a Canadian identity. Of course, when I say promote faith, I principally mean the Christian faith that Canada was built on, but supporting orthodox Islam against the heretical, ISIS-aligned brand offered by hate clerics is also sound policy. Assimiliationism is better than multiculturalism. All citizens of Canada should be encouraged to embrace their Canadian identity, and above all else, to embrace the monarchy- the Maple Crown- as the keystone of the Canadian nation; a sentiment expressed by the admirable Canadian Islamic leader Sayyid Amiruddin, of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order, on his blog.

Canada is a country that I have great affection for. It is a country built on loyalty to the Crown, and
indeed Canada has grown from a loyal colony of Great Britain to a loyal friend and comrade in arms. I despair at the creeping Americanisation of Canada, especially the gradual erosion of traditional Canadian Toryism by an American brand of Conservatism that seems to have asserted itself recently. Symbolic gestures such as the Canadian Government's decision to restore the names of the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Airforce in 2011 give me hope that Canada's identity, grown from a cutting of Great Britain but shaped by its unique history and circumstances, will endure. With its vast territories and natural resources, Canada has the makings of a great power, if it so wished to become one; but whatever path Canada chooses in the future, it will be brave men like Nathan Cirillo and Kevin Vickers who get it there.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Victory For The Union!

"Better Together" supporters celebrate the unionist victory as the
final results come in.
The results of Scotland's referendum on secession this morning: 55.3% voted no (2,001,926), 44.7% voted yes (1,617,989). The turnout was an amazing 84.59%, showing that if nothing else this referendum heightened public interest in politics considerably. 

From the bottom of my heart, I'd like to thank every one of those 2,001,926 Scots who cast their vote in favour of retaining our United Kingdom. In the days ahead their will be plenty of talk about devolution and constitutional reform, the long term impacts of this referendum; but for today at least, the atmosphere is one of celebration for those who love Great Britain. Let's crack out the whiskey and raise a glass o' cheer to the Queen and the People of Scotland and the United Kingdom!

Hip, hip- hurray!
Hip, hip- hurray!
Hip, hip- hurray!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Scottish Referendum: A Last Word Before The Result

The referendum that will decide the fate of my country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, was held today and by the time I have posted this message I suspect most Scots will already have cast their votes. It is probably too late, then, for me to urge any undecided voters who might happen to stumble across this blog right before going out to the polls to choose the Union over the uncertainties of independence. Considering that this blog was set up in large part to argue the case for the Union, I have given it fairly little coverage; the referendum has crept up more quickly than any of us could imagine, and I've been too busy in my personal life to devote considerable time to my blog. That said, whatever the result of this referendum is, I will not stop blogging. In the worst case scenario, if I wake up tomorrow morning to find that my country has been condemned to abolition in two years time after the last negotiations are complete, the next mission I will face will be doing what little I can to defend the Union of the Crowns and the Scottish monarchy which will surely be the SNP's next target. Alternatively, if the decision of the Scottish people is a decisive "No," as I truly hope it will be, then we unionists can all take a deep sigh of relief, but I will definitely continue posting my views on the Union and Scotland along with a range of other topics (hopefully). The truth is, no matter what the result the polls indicate that it will be a close race, and in the event of the "No" camp succeeding by a slim margin I have no doubt that the nationalists will be calling for another referendum in ten years' time. So long as there are things of great import in this world, there will inevitably be those seeking to destroy them.

There is little point now in me criticising the atrocious way that the "Yes" campaign has been carried out. From encouraging nationalist teenagers to emotionally blackmail their unionist grandparents into voting yes, to organising "mobs" to disrupt pro-Unionist events, the "Yes Scotland" campaign has behaved in a manner resembling the authoritarian populist parties of the early 20th century. I have personally been on the receiving end of one or two taunts from the now infamous "cybernats" or online nationalist lobby, but truth be told I've gotten on surprisingly well; maybe because I've chosen to voice my opinion mainly on this blog and dedicated political forums rather than venturing onto Twitter, Facebook and other social media where people have had abuse hurled at them for endorsing a "No"vote. I tend to think JK Rowling is an overrated author, but I admire her greatly for coming out as a "Better Together" supporter and urging a peaceful and respectful dialogue, despite the fact that she has come under fire from nationalists for voicing her opinion. I'm not sure I agree with the idea of her becoming Queen of Scots, however. 

On the topic of the Queen of Scots, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II caused a media stir by "breaking her silence" on the Scottish referendum. The Queen's comment that she hopes “people will think very carefully about the future” was taken by many on both sides of the debate as an endorsement of the "No" campaign, leading to the usual accusations of the Queen having violated her political neutrality. So telling people to think very carefully about the future is encouraging them to vote no? I'm saying nothing.

The votes are being cast even as I write. Soon the future of not just one, but four countries- and quite possibly the entire world- will be written by Scotland's 5.2 million inhabitants, in the form of millions of a little "x" in one of two little boxes. Unfortunately, being merely of Scottish descent, I get no vote, and no say in the matter. It is now out of my hands. Que sera sera. But I pray earnestly for a Unionist victory. God Save the Queen and the United Kingdom!

O let us not, like snarling curs, 

In wrangling be divided, 
Till, slap! come in an unco loun, 
And wi' a rung decide it! 
Be Britain still to Britain true, 
Amang ourselves united; 
For never but by British hands 
Maun British wrangs be righted! 
No! never but by British hands 
Shall British wrangs be righted!
- Rabbie Burns, "Does Haughty Gaul Invasion Threat"

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

5 Good Reasons To Vote No - Part 2

Continued from Part 1.

3. The North Sea oil won't last forever.

One of the Yes campaign's major points throughout the campaigning has been that Scotland as an independent country would have a valuable asset in the form of North Sea oil and gas reserves. The issue came up again last night, when Alex Salmond said that "every other country in Europe would give their back teeth to have North Sea Oil". Except the Kingdom of Norway, of course, who already have 54% of the sea's oil reserves and 45% of its gas reserves. Norway is part of the "arc of prosperity" cited by Alex Salmond as models that an independent Scotland could model itself on, before other members of that arc of prosperity- including Iceland and the Republic of Ireland- suffered a spectacular economic collapse when the recession hit. Certainly, Norway has gained great wealth from its share of the oil and gas reserves in the North Sea, but Norwegian and British government sources agree that over half the reserves have already been used. Furthermore, as Alistair Darling pointed out last night, oil is a very volatile source of revenue and an independent Scotland relying on it to buoy the economy would be taking a gamble. Recently, Sir Ian Wood, a major figure in the UK's oil and gas industry, came out against independence warning that "there are only 15 years of reserves left before its decline starts wreaking major damage on the Scottish economy." Sir Ian believes that the Scottish Government has been overestimating the remaining oil and gas reserves in the North Sea. On the other hand, other industry experts yesterday said that the Scottish Government's estimate of 24bn remaining barrels of oil was "plausible." Whatever the case, oil and gas are non-renewable resources, meaning that they are replenished so slowly that they are effectively finite. And reserves are notoriously difficult to predict, meaning that relying on the revenue from North Sea oil to buoy the independent Scotland's economy is building a house on unstable ground.

4. EU membership is uncertain.

Another of Yes Scotland's talking points has been the European Union, which Scots are generally more supportive of than their countrymen in the rest of the United Kingdom. Alex Salmond has repeatedly claimed that independence is the best option for Scots who wish to remain within the EU, as rising euroscepticism south of the border sees the UK Independence Party gaining increasing electoral success and the Conservatives promising a referendum on EU membership if re-elected. However, as I've previously mentioned, Salmond's assertions that upon independence, Scotland would automatically inherit the UK's membership of the Union have been contradicted by members of the European elite. In February, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that it would be "extremely difficult, if not impossible" for Scotland to join the European Union. Yesterday his sentiments were echoed by Ruairi Quinn, former president of EU's finance council, who predicted that Spain and Belgium would be likely to block Scotland's application. Both countries have significant secessionist movements within their own borders and would not wish to encourage them by allowing a newly independent Scotland into Europe. Mr Quinn also stated that Scotland would need to adopt the euro as a condition of joining the EU, providing its application was accepted, contradicting Alex Salmond's claims that Scotland would be allowed to continue using the pound as the United Kingdom is at present.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Fishermen's Federation have warned that an independent Scotland would have less clout within the EU and less say when it came to issues such as fishing quotas, meaning that Scotland would likely lose out to larger countries- including the rest of the United Kingdom, which will continue to have considerable influence in Europe post-independence. The SFF also described the SNP’s claims that Scotland could negotiate EU membership between a "yes" vote next month and seceding in March 2016 as "very optimistic." Much like the rest of their campaign, then.

5. The United Kingdom is stronger together.

As a unified country, Great Britain and later the United Kingdom achieved more than Scotland and England ever did alone. For better or for worse, the British Empire was the largest empire in world history, and the union flag flew over a quarter of the world's landmass at its height. The Industrial Revolution began here, as did modern parliamentary democracy, influenced as much by the Scottish Enlightenment as by English ideals. Glasgow was called the "Second City of the Empire." Today, Scotland still benefits from being part of one of the world's great powers, a nuclear power with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and eighth-largest by purchasing power parity. But most of all, the bonds between the people of the British Isles go beyond mere politics and economics; we have deeply influenced each other's culture, and millions of people live in the UK today who have both English and Scottish ancestry, living embodiment of the 300-year-old union between these two ancient nations, along with Wales and Northern Ireland. I will leave the last word to the architect of the Union of Crowns, James VI and I, who laid the groundwork for the eventual unification of Great Britain:

James VI and I in 1606 by
John De Critz the Elder 
"But the union of these two princely houses is nothing comparable to the union of two ancient and famous kingdoms, which is the other inward peace annexed to my person ... Has not God first united these two kingdoms, both in language, religion, and similitude of manners? Yes, has he not made us all in one island, compassed with one sea, and of itself by nature so indivisible, as almost those that were borderers themselves on the late borders, cannot distinguish nor know or discern their own limits? These two Countries being separated neither by sea, nor great river, mountain, nor other strength of nature ..."
- James VI and I, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland

Monday, 25 August 2014

5 Good Reasons To Vote No - Part 1

The Scottish independence debate is really warming up now as we draw close to the 18th September, when the people of Scotland will go to the polls. Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond will be trading blows again tonight in their second televised debate; the first one made for frustrating viewing as both politicians dodged questions and resorted to attacking one another's campaign tactics rather than discussing the core issues surrounding the referendum. Most notably, Darling repeatedly asked what the SNP's "Plan B" was for Scotland's currency if their plan for a customs union with the rump of the United Kingdom failed, and Salmond repeated sidestepped the question. Tonight's debate will no doubt be much of the same.

Personally, I remain firmly wedded to the Union. In case you hadn't noticed. But if you're still not confessed that the Union is best for Scotland, here's my 5 top ten reasons to vote "NO!" on the 18th, posted in two parts:

1. There aren't any definite plans on currency.

Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, has repeatedly stated that the Scottish National Party's plan is to continue to use the pound sterling after seceding from the United Kingdom, stating that a currency union between the independent Scottish state and the UK would be desirable for all parties. However, Westminster has shown little enthusiasm for the idea of a currency union, and in February the Chancellor announced that the Coalition Government had formally ruled out the idea of an official currency union. In the last debate, the First Minister indicated that Scotland could continue to use the pound after independence whether or not the UK agreed, just as Panama uses the US dollar. This is entirely true- however, without a formal currency union, Scotland would find itself at the whims of the central British government's financial policy, and Scotland could not count on a safety net in the event of a future financial crisis. What's more, the pound sterling is backed by the Bank of England. The Scottish banknotes printed by Scottish banks are not in fact legal tender, but promissory notes that are backed by the Bank of England; since the Bank of England has no real reason to continue backing promissory notes printed by foreign banks in a foreign country, it is by no means clear whether Scotland would still be able to print its own currency upon independence. A further complication is that the SNP hope for Scotland to remain within the European Union post-independence, but EU officials, including European Commission  President Jose Manuel Barroso, have stated that Scotland will need to apply as a new country, meaning that Scotland will likely be expected to adopt the euro.

To make matters worse, the SNP have said that if they are refused a currency union with the rest of the UK, they will walk out on their £140 billion share of UK national debt. Apart from being childish, this is extremely dangerous financially- if the newly independent Scotland's first act as a sovereign country was to essentially default on its national debt, the impact on financial markets could be devastating. The SNP could rock Scotland's economy from Day 1.

2. Border controls would have to be introduced.

Currently, people are free to move between Scotland and the rest of the UK. The SNP have stated that this will remain the case post-independence; however, this is not guaranteed. A number of prominent pro-Union politicians have indicated that border controls between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom would have to be introduced; the principal concern is that Scotland plans to introduce a more lax immigration policy following independence, with Alex Salmond promising to increase net migration into Scotland by 10% in order to expand the workforce. Scotland's population is aging more quickly than the rest of the UK, meaning that the workforce needs to be expanded to pay for Scottish pensions.

Unfortunately, this is at odds with viewpoints on immigration in the rest of the country, where there is pressure for tighter border controls. This means that some politicians are worried immigrants will enter the rest of the UK through Scotland, necessitating border controls between England and Scotland. This could have a serious impact on Scotland's economy, since exports to the rest of the UK account for just over 50 per cent of total exports from Scotland, and imports from the rest of the UK account for around 64 per cent of Scotland's total imports. It would also be a major inconvenience for anyone like myself who is of both Scottish and English descent and regularly visits relatives on the other side of the border- and that's a sizable portion of the UK's population. What's more, if Scotland was required to go through the normal application process to the EU as Barroso suggested, it might be expected to join the Schengen Area, a common travel area established by an agreement in 1995 that enabled passport-free movement between 25 European countries, but not the UK and Ireland. This would almost certainly require border controls between Scotland and the rest of the British Isles.

To be continued.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Royal Martyrs

The martyred King Louis XVI gives money to the poor.
I apologise for not posting anything for a while. Part of the reason for this absence is that I've just returned from France, where I had a rather Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette themed holiday, visiting the Château de Versailles, seat of the Ancien Régime; the Conciergerie, where Queen Marie Antoinette was held prior to her execution; the Place de la Concorde, formerly Place de la Révolution, where the King and Queen were among the hundreds guillotined by the successive revolutionary governments; and the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Denis, where the remains of Louis and his family were interred following the Bourbon Restoration on the orders of King Louis XVIII. The tragic story of the revolution and the murder of the Royal Family was brought to life for me after seeing where they lived and died, but by far the most harrowing moment was visiting the grave of the titular King Louis XVII, son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who died in 1795 of tuberculosis almost certainly brought on by the horrific circumstances he was kept in by the revolutionaries after his parents were sent to the guillotine. He had no official grave until 2004, when a heart which DNA testing showed to be that of the ten-year-old King was interred by French royalists along with his family in the royal crypt beneath St. Denis.
Louis XVII, titular
King of France and Navarre

My visit to Paris caused my mind to dwell somewhat on the fate of royal martyrs, among whom three in particular leap to mind; Charles I of Great Britain, Louis XVI of France (of course), and Nicholas II of Russia. All three of these monarchs were deposed and then executed- or, rather, murdered- by revolutionaries. But the similarities do not end here. What struck me thinking about these three men and their fates is that all three were, by all accounts, personally very moral and upright individuals. All three loved their wives and not one of them was known to have ever had an affair, despite the nature of royals' arranged marriages making royal mistresses common throughout history. All three were men of strong Christian faith- Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox. All three men were regarded as reactionaries and tyrants, but all three certainly regarded themselves as being in the right and as defending the true law of their respective kingdoms (or empire, in the case of Nicholas). Louis and Charles both showed great courage when facing their deaths, Charles I famously wearing two shirts in case the cold caused him to shiver and give the impression that he was afraid, while Louis XVI exclaimed to the crowd as he was strapped down, "My people, I am innocent!" The executioner, Charles Henri Samson, later said that the King "bore all this with a composure and a firmness which has surprised us all," putting it down to the King's deep religiosity. Nicholas II, of course, was not even given the courtesy of a show trial by the Bolsheviks; supposedly his last words after being told he and his family were to be put to death were simply, "What? What?"

Finally, all three, upon closer inspection of their lives and reigns, appear to have been more incompetent or weak than outright malicious. Even then, in more ordinary times they might have been remembered as pious, much-loved sovereigns- not particularly militarily successful, or great reformers, but fine rulers nonetheless. It seems to me that when revolution rears its ugly head, it is the gentlest and most moral of rulers who tend to fall. There is a reason for this- strong, politically savvy kings like Louis XIV or the "Iron Tsar" Nicholas I do not fall to revolutionaries. They crush them.

Charles I, King and Martyr
Some might argue that this is a weakness of monarchy; one weak king at a bad time may spell disaster. But Charles, Louis and Nicholas all faced colossal challenges; in similarly troubling times, democracy does not tend to do well either. In fact, it has a tendency to commit suicide by raising dictators to power. Democracy works well enough in stable countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. In the Middle East, however, or in Ukraine, or Thailand, one sees that democracy has not coped well with challenges such as sectarianism or social upheaval. Likewise, if King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were King and Queen of a modern day France, they would likely be beloved of their people. The much-vilified Marie Antoinette, with her personally charitable nature and exasperation with the stifling traditions of the French court, would probably be seen as a Queen of the People; the libelles that turned the populace on her on the eve of the revolution, with horrifying tales of degeneracy and decadence, would be dubbed "trolls" or prosecuted for, erm, libel. As monarchists should know, the Queen never uttered that immortal line, "Let them eat cake;" she did say, on the occasion of her and Louis' coronation, "It is quite certain that in seeing the people who treat us so well despite their own misfortune, we are more obliged than ever to work hard for their happiness."

In many ways, the sufferings of these monarchs and their families after their overthrow are symbolic of the sufferings of their people. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were followed to the guillotine by thousands of Frenchmen, ironically including many of those who had sentenced the King and Queen to death themselves. Millions of Nicholas II's former subjects perished in the gulags of the Soviet Union, many more than had ever been killed by the Tsarist regime. And Cromwell's Protectorate, which came to power in the aftermath of Charles I's execution and wielded power until Richard Cromwell was overthrown and the Stuart monarchy restored in the 1660 Restoration, was almost a prototype for modern totalitarian regimes- from banning Christmas in 1647 as part of an effort to force Puritan beliefs on the population to the brutal Cromwellian conquest of Ireland from 1649 to 1653, which has been described as genocidal. It is, of course, important that we don't forget the thousands of anonymous individuals who lost their lives or livelihoods to the march of revolution, but in remembering the sovereigns and their families who were themselves martyred for their beliefs, in a way we are symbolically remembering all of those who were lost in the revolutions that toppled those sovereigns and their monarchies. And one martyr is a powerful thing; one martyr who serves as representative for millions more is surely even more powerful.

Official portrait of Nicholas II of Russia and his family
in 1911, seven years before they were murdered.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

How British Is The Queen?

We've all heard it said; "the Royal Family aren't really British, they're German." Ignorant republicans with a very limited understanding of British history and the genealogy of the House of Windsor love repeating this line, especially as a counter-argument to monarchists' claims that the monarchy is a key symbol of British culture and identity. Of course, the truth is that the Royal Family are partially of German descent; the current crop of royals are descended from His Royal Highness Albert, the Prince Consort, consort to Queen Victoria and Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. His son, Edward VII, was of his house and therefore a Saxe-Coburg and Gotha himself, as was George V until he changed the name of the royal house to "Windsor" by royal edict during the First World War in response to high anti-German sentiment. But Prince Albert was the last truly German member of the Royal Family, and he died in 1861! Every monarch since has been born on British soil.

Sophia, Electress of Hanover,
George I's mother
Still, when people attempt to claim that the Royal Family "aren't really British," it is not poor old Prince Albert who they pick on. The insistence of some republicans is that in 1714, following the death of Anne, Queen of Great Britain, Parliament found some random Protestant German noble family and imported itself a new Protestant monarch to be King. Therefore, the House of Hanover was simply a "German export" and all descendants of George I are really "German." Firstly, it must be said that many of these people would have a field day if you tried to say that, say, a third-generation Indian immigrant to the UK, who was born in Britain but is entirely of Indian descent, was not really British but Indian. Yet they insist, much like the British National Party who infamously proclaimed that anyone whose ancestors migrated to the UK after 1066 were not entitled to be here, that the family of a German immigrant who arrived in 1714 and have since married into the native population and adopted the English language and British culture are nonetheless not really British but German. It beggars belief.

Alfred the Great of Wessex, first
Kingof the Anglo-Saxons
Secondly, George I was not simply some random German Protestant nobleman. He was only able to claim the throne because he was a descendant of King James VI and I through his daughter, Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia, who was George's grandmother. So the Queen is in fact a descendant of the House of Stuart, and through James, can trace her descent back to Henry VII of England whose daughter Margaret was the Queen of James IV, King of Scots (my avatar), and so mother of King James V. And through Henry VII, our current Queen can trace her descent all the way back to William the Conqueror. Not only that, but the Queen is also descended from Matilda of Scotland, Henry I's queen, through their daughter the Holy Roman Empress Matilda and her son, King Henry II. This is significant because Queen Matilda's mother, Saint Margaret of Scotland, was the granddaughter of Edmund Ironside, one of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of England and a member of England's first royal house, the House of Wessex. This makes the Queen a descendant of none other than Alfred the Great.

So the Queen has a fairly sound claim to the English throne. But what about her Scottish credentials? Well, the first Stuart (or Stewart) King of Scots was Robert II, from whom James IV, and so the Queen, was descended. Robert II took the throne of Scotland in 1371 after the death of King David II, the last of the House of Bruce. Robert's claim to the throne was through his descent from Robert I- the famous Robert the Bruce who defeated the English at Bannockburn- whose daughter Marjorie
Kenneth MacAlpin, according
tolegend the first King of Scots
was Robert II's mother. So the Queen is descended from Robert the Bruce. The Bruce himself was able to claim the throne of Scotland because he was a fourth great-grandson of King David I of the Royal House of Dunkeld. The House of Dunkeld was founded by King Duncan I of Scotland- the very same Duncan killed by Macbeth, although the historical Duncan was a young man slain in battle against Macbeth's army, not an elderly king murdered in his sleep. Duncan was the grandson of Malcolm II of Scotland (Máel Coluim mac Cináeda or Malcom, Son of Kenneth in medieval Gaelic), who was the last King of Scots from the House of Alpin, and a descendant of none other than King Kenneth MacAlpin (Cináed mac Ailpín), the semi-legendary founder of Scotland who united the Scots and the Picts in the 9th century AD to found the Kingdom of Alba.

So, our "foreign" Queen is in fact the descendant of both the semi-legendary first King of Scotland and the semi-legendary first King of England. A German import, indeed.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Elizabeth of House Windsor, Second of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men...

The Queen reportedly noted that the Iron Throne looked quite
 uncomfortable to sit on, according to actress Maisie Williams
 who plays Arya Stark.
As a royalist and a fan of the American HBO show Game of Thrones, as well as the book series by George RR Martin that the show is based on, A Song of Ice and Fire, I was thrilled to bits yesterday when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited the show's set in Northern Ireland yesterday and spoke with some of the actors and actresses from the show- Lena Headey (Queen Cersei Lannister), Maisie Williams (Arya Not-A-Lady Stark), Sophie Turner (Lady Sansa Stark), Kit Harington (Jon Snow, who knows nothing), Rose Leslie (Ygritte, who told Jon Snow he knows nothing) and Conleth Hill (Lord Varys, "the Spider.") There was, I gather, much disappointment on the internet that Her Majesty never sat on the Iron Throne of Westeros, though there are many slightly surreal images of the Queen (Elizabeth, not Cersei) looking at it.

"Believe me, girls, the Starks and Lannisters have
nothing on my ancestors!"
 In my mind, the conversation between the Queen and the cast went something like this:

"So you're saying that whoever sits on this throne is ruler of the Seven Kingdoms?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Bah, amateurs. I rule sixteen."

On a side note, I watched a piece about the Queen's visit on BBC news last night. The presenter demonstrated perfect comic timing when discussing Her Majesty's tour of Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast, noting that the Queen would be given a tour by two former inmates- First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. You couldn't make it up. Both politicians were interred for a time at the now closed prison for involvement with unionist and Irish republican paramilitaries, respectively. Still, the fact that such a visit could happen is testament to how far reconciliation efforts in Ulster have come over the last decade; just ten years ago, a royal tour of Crumlin Road would have been unthinkable. This visit was far more significant than just a chance to take pictures of the Queen next to the Iron Throne- but admit it, that was pretty cool.

Windsors Are Coming.

Friday, 20 June 2014

¡Nuevo Rey de España!

Spain's new King salutes his people, accompanied by new his new
royal consort Queen Letzia.
Yesterday, Felipe, Prince of Asturias was sworn in as King of Spain in the country's parliament, becoming King Felipe VI and receiving from his father King Juan Carlos the royal sash of a captain-general, the highest rank in the Spanish army, since 1999 reserved for the reigning King of Spain- the Commander-in-Chief of the Spanish Armed Forces. The ceremony was a low budget affair, with the King sensibly opting not to go for an opulent celebration at a time when Spain's economic troubles continue to be a headache. His Catholic Majesty was welcomed by his people with great flair; they turned out in droves, flags waving, to cheer the new King and shout out ¡Viva el Rey! In accordance with Spanish tradition, there was no coronation ceremony, but the royal crown was on display at the inauguration.

In his first speech as King of Spain, Felipe VI addressed the growth of Basque and Catalonian separatist movements, saying, "We all fit in a diverse Spain." His Catholic Majesty went on, "This relationship between cultures and traditions has its best expression in our languages. Alongside Castellano, the other languages of Spain form part of our common heritage, which, as the constitute establishes, should be something worthy of special respect and protection." The King also addressed his country's economic woes, offering "solidarity to citizens who have suffered the blows of the crisis in recent years." Speaking of the monarchy itself, he said: "my personal conviction is that parliamentary monarchy can and should continue to provide a fundamental service to Spain." I should hope so, sire; there is nothing worse for a royalist than being "plus royaliste que le roi."

There was some effort on the part of republicans to ruin the festivities, but the police (quite rightly) took a hardline approach to suppressing protests on what should have been a day of nation celebration- and for the most part, was. Unfortunately, polls suggest that not everyone was proud to be a Spaniard yesterday; a poll indicated that a clear majority of Spaniards aged 18-34 want to see Spain’s constitutional monarchy abolished in favour of a republic. However, older Spaniards remain overwhelmingly pro-monarchy, probably because they remember what life was like before King Juan Carlos brought freedom to his kingdom and ended the Francoist dictatorship. The young, ever foolish, naïve, ill-informed and short-sighted, do not remember what life under a republic was like. They glaze over the horrific crimes of the Spanish Second Republic, remembering only the propaganda about "equality," "liberty" and "freedom". But only under the sheltering wing of constitutional monarchy has some degree of freedom and democracy survived and prospered in Spain.

Spaniards celebrate their new King
For my part, though not a Spanish subject, I was proudly displaying the Spanish flag (the real* Spanish flag, not that Republican abomination with the purple stripe) from my window yesterday, though anyone who saw it likely thinks I was supporting Spain in the world cup. As monarchists, we must do our bit to forward the cause, and the best way to do this is to proudly display our allegiance to all surviving monarchies, the world over. If we are fortunate, it might spark a discussion with a curious friend, co-worker or neighbour, and the seeds of monarchism might be planted- and by that, I mean real monarchism, not just reading about the Duchess of Cambridge in Hello! magazine but actively campaigning to raise awareness of monarchy's vital political, cultural and societal role. For every foreign republican egging on Spain's republicans in the comments section of The Guardian or any other Leftist, anti-royalist site, we must have a monarchist praising the House of Bourbon and urging Spaniards not to abandon their heritage. To the people of Spain, I say to you; ¡Viva España!  ¡Viva el Rey! ¡Por Dios, Patria y Rey!**

*by happy coincidence, "real" is "royal" in Spanish. Get real, Spaniards!
**and sorry if I accidentally butcher your language. I'm a Briton, we're not good at foreign languages.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Monarchy and Democracy

Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Spain
It's been a while since my last blog post, mainly because it's exam season for me right now, so I really haven't had much time for blogging. Which is a shame, because there has been a great deal to talk about over the last two or three weeks for those of a conservative monarchist persuasion. The biggest news for me, at least, was King Juan Carlos of Spain's decision to abdicate, announced the 2nd June. There has naturally been a lot of buzz in the media and "blogosphere" about His Catholic Majesty's announcement (King Juan Carlos never used the style "Catholic Majesty," but I still like to as it is the traditional manner of address for Spanish monarchs and tradition is precious), but the article that caught my interest the most was this article, which looked back on the King's suppression of an attempted nationalist coup d'état in 1981, when His Catholic Majesty ordered a group of military officers who had attempted to seize control of the recently restored Kingdom of Spain and revive the Franco era dictatorship to return to their barracks.

The article draws a comparison between King Juan Carlos' actions in 1981 and the recent coup d'état by military forces in Thailand. General Prayuth Chan-ocha led the coup last month to overthrow the caretaker government and restore order after months of protests by the rival "Yellowshirt" and "Redshirt" factions. For those unfamiliar with Thailand's troubles, the Yellowshirts are largely middle-class, urban royalists who opposed the corrupt government of Yingluck Shinawatra, who many saw as a puppet of her brother the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was overthrown by a previous military coup in 2006 and has been living in exile ever since. The "Redshirts" are largely rural agricultural workers from the north of the country, who support the Shinawatras and their Pheu Thai Party because of their populist policies which benefit the lower classes. Recently the Yellowshirts succeeded in their aims of ousting Yingluck Shinawatra from power, but were unimpressed with the fact that the Constitutional Court who deposed Yingluck allowed a rump of her government to remain power as the caretaker government until a new election. Meanwhile, Red Shirts took to the streets to protest Yingluck's removal, and Thailand found itself on the brink of anarchy as the two factions fought one another.

Amidst this chaos, General Prayuth seized power. To legitimise his new military-run government, Prayuth sought the support of the revered King of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Initially, Prayuth was going to have an audience with the King who would then confirm the legitimacy of his government. Then, Prayuth was going to write a letter to the King. Finally Prayuth announced that the King had endorsed his regime in a press conference. Cue the tide of condemnation by outraged westerners. It's all the King's fault, they said. Of course an undemocratic institution like a monarchy would support an undemocratic dictatorship! Yet things may not be as they appear. After General Prayuth's declaration last month, the customary televised address by the King confirming his support for the coup did not occur (as I mentioned earlier, this is not the first time the military has stepped in to restore order in Thailand after the failure of elected governments), and most tellingly, the letter presented by Prayuth as proof of the King's support lacked the customary royal seal. There have been questions over whether the ailing 86 year old monarch is in any condition to be making decisions like whether or not to endorse a military coup.

The article I linked to in my first paragraph makes no mention of the Thai King's previous actions to protect the constitution and Thailand's democratic system. In 1992, Thailand experienced another military coup. General Suchinda Kraprayoon overthrew the government of Chatichai Choonhavan, and took power as Prime Minister despite not being elected to Parliament. The Thai people responded with a wave of protests led by former general Chamlong Srimuang. Suchinda ordered that Chamlong be arrested and declared a state of emergency and made gatherings of more than ten people illegal. On the 20th May, Princess Sirindhorn and Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn both made televised appeals for calm and an end to the violence. Later that day, the King himself broadcast a meeting between himself, Suchinda and Chamlong, with the two generals kneeling before the King as custom dictated; the King remonstrated them for their conduct and urged them to put an end to their confrontation and work together through parliamentary procedures, for the good of the nation which, the King said, belongs to "everyone, not one or two specific people. The problems exist because we don't talk to each other and resolve them together. The problems arise from 'bloodthirstiness'. People can lose their minds when they resort to violence. Eventually, they don't know why they fight each other and what the problems they need to resolve are. They merely know that they must overcome each other and they must be the only winner. This no way leads to victory, but only danger. There will only be losers, only the losers. Those who confront each other will all be the losers. And the loser of the losers will be the Nation. ... For what purpose are you telling yourself that you're the winner when you're standing upon the ruins and debris?".

His Majesty the King of Thailand, right, instructs the feuding generals
Suchinda Kraprayoon and Chamlong Srimuang to put their grievances
aside for the good of the nation.
The King's intervention ended the violence; Suchinda released Chamlong and announced an amnesty for the protesters. He also agreed to support an amendment requiring the Prime Minister to be elected. Chamlong asked the demonstrators to disperse, and Suchinda shortly afterwards resigned as Prime Minister of Thailand. Royal intervention brought the violence to an end. King Bhumibol Adulyadej acted on that day with much the same courage and love for his people and for freedom as King Juan Carlos did in 1981. Those who criticise the Thai King should brush up on their history. More recently, the King refused a request by the loudly royalist Yellowshirts to appoint a Prime Minister without the consent of Parliament, as doing so would be unconstitutional. Clearly this man is a despot! Why, then, has King Bhumibol Adulyadej given his blessing to this military coup? The King has not been seen for months now, and is known to be very ill. Perhaps His Majesty simply isn't in any position to be standing up to coup leaders. It's been suggested that the King is in fact comatose at this point. These are sad thoughts; few modern heads of state deserve the respect that the King of Thailand has earned. But even if he cannot put an end to the infighting in person, the King's words in that speech from May, 1992 should echo down the years. Thais today would do well to listen to their King, even if he hasn't the strength to make himself heard.

I am a strong believer that monarchy is a strong institution because it is an adaptable institution. The constitutional monarchies of modern Europe evolved from the feudal monarchies of the high middle ages, through the Age of Absolutism, to take the form they now possess. Monarchy is compatible with almost any other form of government, including democracy, and the examples of Juan Carlos and Bhumibol Adulyadej demonstrate that even in a democratic system where power is mainly focused in the hands of elected politicians, a monarchy is both relevant and advantageous, providing stability and a check on the power of other institutions. With the King of Thailand in ill health and his heir apparent, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, spending the recent political crisis in the United Kingdom the future of Thailand and the Thai monarchy looks increasingly uncertain. Yet so long as he lives, and no doubt long after, King Bhumibol Adulyadej will be a rallying point for Thais as the man who ended a potentially violent conflict by ordering two men to get down on their knees and work out their problems together. The Spanish, by contrast, have a relatively certain future, with an heir apparent- Felipe, Prince of Asturias, soon to be King Felipe VI- who has shown every sign of one day being an fine monarch. Even so, there are calls for a Third Spanish Republic, even though the current constitutional monarchy has been the first stable democratic state in Spanish history and the two previous republics have failed. The people of Spain should look to history, especially their own, and especially the actions of King Juan Carlos, the man who gave them the very freedoms they now use to call for his son's deposition.

Above all else, in any system be it constitutional or absolute, democratic or not, a monarchy stands for law and order. Monarchism is all about legitimacy, and this is what differentiates it from any other non-democratic movement- and often even from democracy. The monarch is the embodiment of the State and the Law, and its premier defender, because he or she draws their legitimacy from that law. I am reminded, curiously enough, of another monarch who is most often remembered as an opponent of democracy, and his words on the nature of power and legitimacy;

"If I would have given way to an arbitrary way, for to have all laws changed according to the power of the sword, I needed not to have come here; and therefore I tell you (and I pray God it be not laid to your charge) that I am the martyr of the people."
- Charles I, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Martyr of the People

Charles I, King and Martyr, is mocked by Oliver Cromwell's

Friday, 23 May 2014

Reacting to Neoreaction

Recently I have been taking an interest in an internet-based political movement called the "neoreactionary" movement- in practice, consisting of little more than a handful of bloggers who have used the medium of the internet very successfully to generate interest in their activities and philosophy. More pompously referred to as the "Dark Enlightenment," this fledgling ideology has been surprisingly well developed. The founder goes by the name Mencius Moldbug, who coined the term "Dark Enlightenment" and may or may not be a rejected Marvel villain. His thoughts can be found over at his blog Unqualified Reservations. Mr Moldbug is not very good at being succinct, and his posts are horrendously long and tedious- and this is coming from someone who managed to wade through The Communist Manifesto. As such I must confess that I have managed to conquer very little of Mr Moldbug's writings myself, but have relied principally on secondary sources for my understanding of neoreaction and the "Dark Enlightenment."

Edward, the Black Prince, kneels before his father
King Edward III; a vision of a world neoreactionaries
would like to see back, perhaps.
Other neoreactionary blogs, or blogs associated to some degree with Moldbug and his views, include More Right, run by a small group of neoreactionary thinkers ; The Anti-Democracy Activist, an anti-democratic, traditionalist blogger who has occasionally spoke of Moldbug with praise; Occam's Razor, who provides us with "reactionary musings from the Dark Enlightenment"; Foseti, who is mentioned everywhere and therefore must be important; and Outside In, another neoreactionary blog. Of course, there are others. These are just the ones I've come across and managed to read a little bit of. It's a very diverse group of people, with links to various other blogger communities that I had no idea existed, such as the "Manosphere". Which is about men, I'm sort of guessing. My interest in these bloggers was sparked by the revelation that at least a sizable proportion of them are monarchists, advocating for the return of hereditary monarchy and aristocracy (they are largely American, of course; here in the UK we still have hereditary monarchy and aristocracy, thank heavens, though they're somewhat watered down these days). The neoreactionary I have read the most, Michael Anissimov who is one of several contributors over at More Right, is particularly keen on monarchy, aristocracy and tradition. He is also a member of the "techno-commercialist" faction within the neoreactionary caucus, more on which later.

Apart from a common (though apparently not universal) desire to revive Europe's hereditary elites, there are a number of other canons of neoreactionary thought. Foremost among these is the idea of "The Cathedral," which neoreactionaries stridently oppose. "The Cathedral" is the neoreactionary name for the informal consensus between governments, the media and educators that supports Progressive ideology and works to silence any competing theory by branding any opposition as "evil" and "regressive" or "backwards." This is a great conspiracy that, like Goldman Sachs, can be imagined as a giant vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, sucking it dry. The Cathedral likes democracy and equality. Neoreactionaries therefore oppose both, and instead believe in strict social hierarchies. I'm a fan of hierarchies myself. However, beyond this there is a large degree of disagreement between competing factions of neoreactionaries. Some neoreactionaries have invented a system that classifies them into three distinct, but overlapping, groups; techno-commercialists, theonomists/religious traditionalists, and racists ethnicists/nationalists.

From the blog Habitable Worlds, a more complex
breakdown of the "Dark Enlightenment"
The techno-commercialists appear to have largely arrived at neoreaction via right-wing libertarianism. They are defiant free marketeers, sharing with other ultra-capitalists such as Randian Objectivists a preoccupation with "efficiency," a blind trust in the power of the free market, private property, globalism and the onward march of technology. However, they are also believers in the ideal of small states, free movement and absolute or feudal monarchies with no form of democracy. The idea of "exit," predominantly a techno-commercialist viewpoint but found among other neoreactionaries too, essentially comes down to the idea that people should be able to freely exit their native country if they are unsatisfied with its governance- essentially an application of market economics and consumer action to statehood. Indeed, countries are often described in corporate terms, with the King being the CEO and the aristocracy shareholders.

The "theonomists" place more emphasis on the religious dimension of neoreaction. They emphasise tradition, divine law, religion rather than race as the defining characteristic of "tribes" of peoples and traditional, patriarchal families. They are the closest group in terms of ideology to "classical" or, if you will, "palaeo-reactionaries" such as the High Tories, the Carlists and French Ultra-royalists. Often Catholic and often ultramontanist. Finally, there's the "ethnicist" lot, who believe in racial segregation and have developed a new form of racial ideology called "Human Biodiversity" (HBD) which says people of African heritage are naturally less intelligent than people of Caucasian and east Asian heritage. Of course, the scientific community considers the idea that there are any genetic differences between human races beyond melanin levels in the skin and other cosmetic factors to be utterly false, but presumably this is because they are controlled by "The Cathedral." They like "tribal solidarity," tribes being defined by shared ethnicity, and distrust outsiders.

Overlap between these groups is considerable, but there are also vast differences not just between them but within them. What binds them together is common opposition to "The Cathedral" and to "progressive" ideology. Some of their criticisms of democracy and modern society are well-founded, and some of them make good points in defence of the monarchical system. However, I don't much like them, and I doubt they'd much like me.

Louis XVIII, le Désiré, of France,
 first King of France and Navarre
after the Bourbon Restoration.
Whereas neoreactionaries are keen on the free market and praise capitalism, unregulated capitalism is something I am wary of. Capitalism saw the collapse of traditional monarchies in Europe in the 19th century, and the first revolutions were by capitalists seeking to establish democratic, capitalist republics where the bourgeoisie replaced the aristocratic elite as the ruling class; setting an example revolutionary socialists would later follow. Capitalism, when unregulated, leads to monopolies, exploitation of the working class, unsustainable practices in pursuit of increased short-term profits, globalisation and materialism. Personally, I prefer distributist economics, which embrace private property rights but emphasise widespread ownership of wealth, small partnerships and cooperatives replacing private corporations as the basic units of the nation's economy. And although critical of democracy, the idea that any form of elected representation for the lower classes is anathaema is not consistent with my viewpoint; my ideal government would not be absolute or feudal monarchy, but executive constitutional monarchy with a strong monarch exercising executive powers and the legislative role being at least partially controlled by an elected parliament- more like the Bourbon Restoration than the Ancien Régime, though I occasionally say "Vive l'Ancien Régime!" on forums or in comments to annoy progressive types. Finally, I don't believe in racialism in any form. I tend to attribute preoccupations with racial superiority to deep insecurity which people find the need to suppress by convincing themselves that they are "racially superior" to others, in absence of any actual talent or especial ability to take pride in. The 20th century has shown us where dividing people up based on their genetics leads us, and it is not somewhere I care to return to.

In conclusion, neoreactionaries would probably consider me to have been influenced by "The Cathedral," with my conciliatory view towards democracy, my rejection of racial differences and my criticisms of free market capitalism. God only knows what they'd make of my decidedly progressive views on environmental and animal rights issues. In future, in addition to more discussion of the fast-approaching Scottish independence referendum and Scottish/British monarchical history, I would like to delve more into my own ideological viewpoints and draw a picture of a traditionalist, monarchist, even reactionary world quite different to that presented by the neoreactionary movement. Still, I welcome debate, I welcome new support for the international reactionary cause, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss with neoreactionaries our mutual beliefs and interests- and perhaps even win some over to my side of the fence, and learn a little myself.

Not too much, though. An open mind is like a fortress with its gates unbarred and unguarded.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Prince of Wales on Vladimir Putin

HRH Charles, Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall,
Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and
Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, occasional prophet.

Recently the press has been getting itself worked up about the alleged comments of our future King, Charles, Prince of Wales and Duke of Rothesay, among other things. In light of the Scottish monarchy theme of this blog- none other than King James IV of Scotland is my avatar and the blog's mascot- I will henceforth refer to him as Duke of Rothesay. His Royal Highness is reported to have likened the strongman ruler of the pseudo-democratic Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, to a certain Adolf who governed Germany in the 1930s and 40s and is generally considered to have been a very bad person. The remarks were made by the Duke of Rothesay in a private conversation with Marienne Ferguson, a museum volunteer at the Canadian Museum of Immigration, Nova Scotia. Mrs Ferguson lost relatives during the Holocaust, and was telling Prince Charles about her experiences when he apparently noted that "now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler."

Should the heir to the throne be making such remarks in public? That's a moot point, because the conversation was private. He certainly didn't offend Mrs Ferguson, who told the press "I must say that I agree with him and am sure a lot of people do. I was very surprised that he made the comment as I know they [members of the Royal Family] aren’t meant to say these things but it was very heartfelt and honest." I certainly agree with the Duke of Rothesay and Mrs Ferguson on this. Many Ukrainians and other eastern Europeans who feel threatened by Russia's aggression probably stand with us on this. Labour leader Edward Miliband is with us, too. Are you?

Of course, Russia says His Highness' remarks are outrageous. "We view the use of the western press by members of the British royal family to spread the propaganda campaign against Russia on a pressing issue – that is, the situation in Ukraine – as unacceptable, outrageous and low," says Alexander Lukashevich, who is apparently the voice of the Russian foreign ministry. UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who has expressed admiration for Putin in the past, is with the Russians. You can kiss goodbye to my vote, Nigel. Nick Clegg has proved he does sometimes have a rational thought, saying, "I have never been of this view that if you are a member of the Royal Family, somehow you have to enter into some Trappist vow of silence. I think he is entitled to his views. But I don't know whether those were his views because I just don't think providing a running commentary on what were private conversations is useful to anybody. I don't know exactly what he did or didn't say in that conversation because he thought it was a private conversation."

Very sensible, Mr Clegg. David Cameron is also being sensible; "I am not going to comment on someone's private conversation, least of all Prince Charles," he told Channel 4 News. Still, the Russians are determined to make this into a foreign relations crisis. They want a meeting with the Foreign Office, in order to "clarify" the Duke of Rothesay's remarks. The Foreign Office intends to use the opportunity to reiterate their disapproval of Russia's actions in Ukraine. Perhaps they could also give the Russians a wee history lesson. In 1938, shortly after the Anschluss was completed merging Austria into Germany, ethnic Germans in the fertile Sudetenland in western Czechoslovakia began agitating for autonomy. Adolf Hitler responded by accusing the Czechoslovakian government of oppressing Sudeten Germans, and signed a secret directive for mobilisation to begin for war with Czechoslovakia. Under pressure from the British and French, the Czechoslovakian government agreed to the Sudeten Germans' four demands, only for Sudeten Germans intent on triggering war between Czechoslovakia and Germany to begin a wave of protests that destabilised talks; the Czechoslovakian army was eventually deployed to restore order.

Partition of Czechoslovakia in 1938, compliments of Wikipedia.
Under the pretext of protecting ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakian oppression, Hitler demanded the immediate annexation of the Sudetenland into the German Reich. The British and French governments, desperate to avoid war with Germany, agreed. Czechoslovakia resisted; however, despite the mobilisation of the Czechoslovakian Army and the promise of Soviet aid, the President of Czechoslovakia was unwilling to risk war with Germany without British and French support. On 29 September, the Munich Agreement was signed by Germany, Italy, France, and Britain, effectively ceding the Sudetenland to Nazi Germany without consulting the Czechoslovakian government. Soon after, the Nazis occupied the Sudetenland and forced Czechoslovakia to surrender large chunks of its territory to neighbouring Hungary and- irony of ironies- Poland. Nonetheless, Czechoslovakia would soon be invaded by Germany and all of Bohemia, the modern Czech Republic, annexed. Slovakia was set up as a nominally independent puppet state of the Third Reich.

Does all this sound familiar? It should- substitute Czechoslovakia for Ukraine, the Crimea for the Sudetenland and Russia for Germany, and the parallels become clear. Any student of history ought to be able to see how Putin, and ex-KGB agent who has mourned the fall of the Soviet Union in public, has taken actions reminiscent of Hitler in his early days. I can see it, Prince Charles can see it, Mrs Ferguson can see it, Ed Miliband can see it. Russia may not be on the road to ethnic cleansing, but its actions are clearly very sinister. Prince Charles has the right to say as he pleases in a private conversation, but let's say he had said it in a public address instead- perhaps that would have been a misstep, and perhaps he would have been criticised for it. But perhaps people would look back on his utterings fifty years from now, and see him as a latter-day Cassandra, the Winston Churchill of our time, his sound warnings ignored by the people around him. Perhaps we should listen to him now.

The views of Russia's true head of state, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, the legitimate Empress and Autocrat of all the Russias, on the Ukrainian crisis can be found here at the Imperial House's website. As might be expected the tone is pro-Russian, but much more reconciliatory and measured than that of the Kremlin. I beg Her Imperial Highness' forgiveness if I appear overly critical of Russia's foreign policy here; I assure the Grand Duchess, and other proud Russian patriots, that my issue is entirely with Vladimir Putin and his neo-Soviet comrades, not with the people of Russia. Let us pray cooler heads prevail in east and west. Боже, Царя храни! God Save the Queen!