Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Republicans are not conservatives

Republicans aim to destroy the aesthetics of our culture

CONSERVATISM, that deplorably misunderstood term, is fundamentally rooted in the preservation of existing things, imperfections included, and a willing acceptance of traditional authority as the legitimate guardian of our inherited liberties. The true conservative is a traditionalist and patriotic defender of his culture, who embraces the politics of trusteeship and glories in the treasures passed down over the ages. Treasures such as the monarchy.

Republicans then, are by definition not conservative(s). That is, apart from in the United States, where republican government has been entrenched for well over 200 years. This is because republicans, whether they originate on the illiberal Left or the non-conservative Right, are antagonistic towards our institutional culture, and seek to overthrow the constitutional authority underpinning it.

Republicans on the Right will protest this, citing their belief in fiscal conservatism, limited government and individual liberty. But the conservative position is not rooted in economic or religious or other singular factors, but in broadly defined cultural ones, of which the pillars of society - the economy, the community, the family, the Church and the state - form but a part. Conservatism properly understood is broader than individual hedonistic pursuits, and is chiefly concerned with preserving our culture, preserving our freedoms and thereby preserving our way of life.

Defending the monarchy, therefore, is really one of defending our culture, of even recognizing that we have a national culture, and that it is worth defending - an awareness made more difficult given the dangerous rhetoric of multiculturalists and other transnational progessives, who repudiate any notion of a home culture. Every individual, every family and even every group should have the freedom to practice their own customs and indigenous culture, but if we wilfully deny and refuse to acknowledge the existence of a majority culture that people should integrate within, just what kind of social order are we advocating, exactly? It is a testament to the strength of our assimilationist culture, notwithstanding the cracks, that we are still able to readily integrate immigrants and maintain a robust civil society, while not only living in complete political denial of this fact, but actively opposing it.

Many republicans would rightly protest that they bear no enmity towards our cultural inheritance as it pertains to our liberties, laws and human arts, and that they proudly embrace such hand-me-downs as habeus corpus, the common law and English literature as much as any monarchist does. Quite, which is why I say the threat posed by republicans on the national treasure is limited to the aesthetics of our culture, what Burke called the "decent draperies of life", the royal this and the royal that, but the destruction of those aesthetics is no small thing, and should not be treated lightly. Republicans, and even "minimal change republicans", stand to completely destroy the regimental heritage of our Armed Forces, for example, of which the military is fiercely loyal. The pride and esprit de corps of Her Majesty's army, navy and air force should not be easily dispensable quantities, and should not be ignored, downplayed or sneered at. The annihilation of those aesthetics would do substantial harm to our culture and institutional forms.

That is why it is perfectly fair to lump republicans in with multicultis, tranzis, oikophobes and other advocates of cultural suicide. And that is why the fight by conservatives against republicanism should be seen for what it is: one small battle in the much larger war in the need to defend our culture.


JJ said...

I am not sure I really understand the logic in this post. Is the monarchy such an important issue that it supersedes all other political issues and single-handedly determines whether or not a person is on the right or left?

So, for instance, is a pro-abortion, atheist, gay marriage-loving, anti-war guy who happens to support the crown automatically more conservative than someone like me, who holds the opposite views on those other major cultural issues, but then also favours a republic?

Recent polls suggest that a majority of people who vote for the Conservative Party of Canada favour a republic too, while monarchy support is quite high among backers of the leftist parties. How is that explained?

David Byers said...

Well put Breaverbrook!

Theodore Harvey said...

To answer JJ's question, the article was not arguing that all supporters of the Crown are ipso facto "conservatives" in a comprehensive sense, but rather that those living in monarchical countries who do NOT support the Crown are NOT "conservatives." Not all monarchists are conservatives, but in a traditionally monarchical country, all true conservatives are monarchists. In order for JJ to be the type of "conservative" he seems to want to be, he would need to immigrate to the United States.

While I realize that this blog's focus is the Anglosphere, a related issue perhaps worth considering is the reverse situation: monarchists in republican countries. Are (for example) French royalists, with whom I deeply sympathize, "conservatives"? I would have to admit that by Beaverbrook's argument, no, after 137 years of republicanism, they're probably not...and I'm OK with that. Burkean conservatism is perhaps best suited for the English-speaking world; what the republics of the Continent (save Switzerland) need is radical counterrevolution.

Beaverbrook said...


I understand the temptation by committed republicans to reduce the significance of our constitutional form of government into just another political issue, as if getting rid of the monarchy is of no more consequence than banning transfats. But given the ramifications it has for our constitution and government, our legal system, our military heritage and all those things endowed with royal patronage, it is profoundly unconservative to agitate for its removal.

That is not to say that all those who support the monarchy are conservatives, or more conservative than you - far from it. I would never make such a preposterous claim, because the monarchy cuts right across the political spectrum, as it should, as it needs to to remain universally relevant. But show me the poll that says a majority of Conservatives favour a republic, and I will show you a political party that is no longer conservative.

Beaverbrook said...

Theodore, thanks. I did not consider the reverse situation, and agree that restoration would involve a more radical set of politics.

Interestingly, it just so happens that David Warren (a Canadian traditionalist, perhaps the last Old Dominion Tory in the public sphere up here) just wrote about what kind of conservative he was, and came to the conclusion that he would probably rate himself a "restorative conservative", given that so much that he loves would require some form of restoration. I invite you to have a read.

Kipling said...

Beaverbrook's comments about Republicans not being conservatives is fair. For the record I am a classical liberal in the tradition of George Brown (Canadian) and William Gladstone, yet the distinction is perhaps a subtle one in this day and age. The failing of Republicans on the Right in the old Dominions is indeed a grave one, it is a failure of imagination.

Cutting taxes and limiting government are all well and good, but surely we aspire to more than politics? When Aristotle said man was a political animal he meant a social creature (the polis). Too mnay of those on the Right see only Economic Man. He does not exist alone. There is Social Man, Spiritual Man and so forth, all together - thought not in a mechanistic way - there is Man. To deny the monarchy is to deny part of man, for among the British derived nations monarchy is an expression of human imagination, a denial of man as being only an animal with superior cognitive abilities.

A nation is an imagined community, created by myths and traditions, in Canadian history the monarchy is central to out imagination. To deny it and call for a Republic on the grounds of efficiency or expediency - both of which are empirically false - is to replace an imagined nation with a utilitarian machine.

It is not simply rendering the state functional, for we are destroying the symbol of the state and nation, there is also the danger of making the men who comprise the nation functional as well.

If we are here to be of some use, and if we are of not of "use,"
if we are aged, or obselete or sickly, shall we too be abolished? This may seem like hyperbold but I am worried about the "economists" at times. I very much like economics as a subject and believe it a powerful tool, but we are more than economic animals and economics conservatives too often forget this. Thus the indifference and even contempt shown the crown.

JJ said...

I would never deny that there is a "conservative" character to most forms of monarchism, but a lot of other unpleasant movements also have a conservative character, such as racism, sexism, colonialism, etc.

I do not have a blind spirit of deference for something just because it's "the way it's always been," and I like to think that most conservatives are not nearly so intellectually bored and uninspired as to embrace such a mantra.

To me, conservatism is about conserving certain values that remain constant over time, such as life, liberty, family, the rule of law, fair process, etc. Our perceptions of these values is always evolving, but as we evolve would should seek to solidify them, and not reinvent them in the way people of the left are prone to.

In past generations, it was simply taken for granted that other races were inferior and dangerous, that women’s brains were inherently weaker, and that is was perfectly sensible practice for children to work in coal mines. The “tests of time,” which is to say scientific advancements and empirical research and observation—as well as just common sense and a willingness to investigate matters honestly—proved all of these conclusions wrong. But that doesn’t mean it was somehow “un-conservative” or “left” or whatever to abandon such policies. Indeed, many conservatives opposed these crimes because they realized the inherent contradictions between such policies and their values. Take for instance the role of many otherwise conservative churches in opposing slavery and segregation.

As I see it, the monarchy is primarily a badly-designed and silly form of government that does virtually none of the things it claims to. Its arguments have not withstood the test of time, and cannot be empirically proven. It is an institution in conflict with many of my own conservative values.

I would also dispute the idea that the crown has always been this enormously important force in our society, or has otherwise served as some sort of key foundation of who we are as a people or civilization. The fascination with the monarchy, as I see it, has always largely been a rather isolated fascination of the elites, and something that ordinary people are instructed to care about, but few actually do.

I think I part ways with a lot of this community in particular when I say that my conservatism has a lot to do with respecting the values and opinions of the “common” man, as opposed to other, more aristocratic notions of the conservatism of the ruling classes.

Palmerston said...

Good Lord, JJ, get a haircut! You look like a rebellious teen with that mop of yours.

Beaverbrook said...

That would make you a cultural conservative in today's crowd, Kipling. Victorian liberals in the mode of George Brown (I've visited his house in Toronto on a few occasions) and Gladstone are so far from the "liberals" of today, it is imperative to use the prefix "classical". I like Russell Kirk's formulation: "I am a conservative because I am a liberal".

J.K. Baltzersen said...

Speaking of the concept of the test of time, which Mr. McCullough has brought to our attention, what could we put on the list of concepts that have not withstood the test of time. Hmmm?!?

The absolute democracy that has liberated itself from any effective check from the scepter? Naa!?! That couldn't be, could it?

Splendor Sine Occasu said...

I'm a classical-liberal monarchist Tory reformer provincialist...did I repeat or contradict myself here?