The U. S. often has little to recommend it over social democratic Europe. It is at least a Republic, recent events have reminded us. Monarchs lording it over formerly colonized indigenous people, hunting endangered species and dismissing anyone who contradicts them as “plebs” have reminded us that behind the present obsession with sovereignty are sovereigns or aristocrats, and a sorry bunch they are. To quote Lewis Carroll, as one should: “Off with their heads!”
Sometimes you don’t really need to add much to a picture.
Here’s the idiot “Prince” William having himself carried around Tuvalu with reality star Kate Middleton close behind. It will be said that this is “traditional.” Like the monarchy itself, most such traditions were invented in the nineteenth century, in this case, most probably by missionaries. There’s some confusion online as to whether this happened in Tuvalu, one of the world’s most threatened nations by sea-level rise, or the Solomon Islands, ditto. In either case, farce pushed out tragedy, with discussion about La Middleton’s semi-naked photos dominating even this colonialist parody.
Or this. In the middle of the Spanish crisis, King Juan Carlos, appointed in effect to the monarchy by fascist dictator Franco, managed to break his hip falling off a step.He was elephant hunting at the time. Yes. The “modern” monarch, not averse to enriching himself via Saudi patronage, is sufficiently traditional that he thinks shooting endangered species from a raised platform is a fun thing to do. And he couldn’t even walk up the steps straight. Oh, and did we mention that he is an honorary president of the World Wildlife Fund?
And what about us plebs? The word has gained new currency since public school upper class twit of the year Andrew Mitchell, chief whip for the UK Conservative Party, yelled at police who wouldn’t allow him to ride his bicycle through the security gate at 10 Downing Street:
You’re fucking plebs!
Normally Occupy 2012 is on the side of police critics. Here an extremely entitled man wants a door held open for him to save him a few seconds and reacts with an outburst of class hatred.
It’s Year Two of Occupy. In Year Two of the French Revolution, they abolished the monarchy. In his 1975 lectures on power, Foucault reflected
What we need… is a political philosophy that isn’t erected around the problem of sovereignty….We need to cut off the head of the King: in political theory that has still to be done.
He was referring to the juridical power of the state as sovereign. But there’s a still older problem: the entitled feudal power of the soi-disant aristocrat over the plebs, the colonized and the non-human world. This work we had thought done. It seems we spoke too soon. Off with their heads!