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

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

My Last Post and Farewell

Dear Monarchist,

After much thought, over a good Single Malt, I have decided to post here segments of an email I have sent to the head people at Australians for Constitutional Monarchy (ACM). I post it to share not only my thoughts but also to contribute to the debate, which is the great Westminster tradition I know you all value. This will be my last Post to "The Monarchist", however I might still send in a comment on other's articles from time to time. Thank you all for allowing me to contribute. The following is my letter of resignation to ACM:

Monarchy/Republic is it a play on words?
I have come to wonder if many who partake in this debate just play with semantics. My understanding of a republic is that it is not just a state with the absence of a hereditary monarch, but that it is a democracy. Therefore, when many in ACM derive nations that call themselves republics yet have dictatorial leaders they are either ignorant or mischievous, as such a state is NOT a republic (not a democracy). However , Hitler and Stalin were true monarchs, just that they were not hereditary. Having read a great deal of history I would say that because Germany and Russia were hereditary monarchical dictatorships, until the end of The Great War, they were thus predisposed to their new monarchical dictatorships of Hitler and Stalin.

However Britain, Australia, Japan, Canada and other such nations are republics as they are democracies. To me the words “Constitutional Monarchy” is just a fancy way of saying republic that for some reason or other has kept a monarch, who has no power, as a figurehead. The word REPUBLIC should be at the heart of anyone who loves freedom.

Problems with “Constitutional Monarchy” in Australia
In 2005 Mrs Bronwyn Bishop gave an address to the ACM conference of that year. She stated at least two times that Australia was a secular state; there is no state religion in Australia, as it should be in a democracy. Yet the rules that govern our hereditary figurehead demand that they be a Protestant Christian and Head of the Church of England; this is a complete farce for us to have this govern who our monarch should be. Is it worth turning over the way our country should be governed and, given that in a democracy a monarch has authority without power?

Most Australians see themselves as living in a largely egalitarian state, yet the Crown in Britain props up some extreme social inequalities. Now this part of the Crown is not in effect in Australia but is it right for us to benefit from something that plays the above role in another nation?

So called “republicans” have sold out Australia
With regards to the “let’s get rid of the monarch at any cost brigade” (the Australian Republican Movement) they do a great disservice to this nation. Whilst I fully acknowledge their right to re-open a debate with regards to our constitution, I am extremely disappointed with the underhanded methods they have promoted since the 1999 referendum. To put a plebiscite, based entirely on nationalistic jingoism, to the people without a new constitution for them to examine is disgusting in the extreme! The question must be asked “never in the history of referenda in Australia has there needed to be a plebiscite before a referendum, so why is this any different?”

Where do I now stand?
I will never again call myself a “Monarchist”. Not only is that dishonest, as Australia is a republic with a monarchical figurehead, but it is also something that tags one with tyrants such as the Kaiser, Hitler, Napoleon and all other True monarchs.


J.K. Baltzersen said...

Mr. Byers,

You may call the Russian and German Emperors dictators or tyrants if you wish. I, however, respectfully dissent. I also respectfully dissent from your claim that a republic need be democratic. History does also have examples of aristocratic republics.

As for your definition of constitutional monarchy as system with a hereditary monarch with no powers, I would say that is just one kind of constitutional monarchy. The Principality of Liechtenstein is a constitutional monarchy, and the Prince of Liechtenstein certainly has powers.

I have no problems with someone calling himself a monarchist – even if the kind of monarchy he wants is a mere figurehead monarchy.

While I am a monarchist of a more paleo kind than you probably ever have been, sir, I always find it sad when someone withdraws from support of even monarchy in the emasculated variant that exists today in the Commonwealth Realms – even if this withdrawal applies only to one of the realms.

Thank you for your contributions thus far, sir, and in advance for your contributions as commenter in the future.

Scott said...

Hm. Have you ever read Bagehot, Burke or Locke?

Your first point is not new, and it certainly doesn't make sense to throw in Monarchism because of it. Under the British Crown - the oldest surviving one, remember, and so our archetype - monarchism and republicanism are not strictly opposed but co-operative, and this within the structure of monarchy itself: elected (cf. republican) politicians pass laws and run departments in the name of the Queen (cf. monarchy). This isn't simply a republic with a powerless figurehead, but a carefully evolved, finely tuned system of governance - with numerous checks of advice, consultation, debate between State and Government, and a division of those last two roles that keeps patriotism from being factionalism - much of it designed and bequeathed to us by the alleged inherent absolutists of the Kings and Queens themselves. Granted, the republican role is now uppermost, and the monarchical role less: but that is simply because the republican components, far from being the virtuous gentlemen you presume, have rapaciously grabbed and arrogated power to themselves.

You are sadly mistaken if you believe liberty and republics (or democracies) go hand in hand. The 20th century was the most democratic, republican century in all human history: and its violent death count is higher than perhaps all the rest combined. Republics and democracies are merely excuses for politicians and other power-hungry men to do to others what others would never allow a monarch to get away with, handily using the figleaf of democratic legitimacy to exercise a power far greater than anything kings have dreamed of. Again, the mixed British monarchy works better. A British Monarch has an oath to God rather than electors; and Its ministers have correspondent oaths to it. We stake our government's honesty not on a powerless abstraction of the People (which, even if decidedly against them, can be bought off, manipulated or ignored, and can certainly be proudly belittled in the name of superior leadership; whilst even careful attentiveness to their every whim produces but vacuous poll-driven people-pleasing). We stake it upon fear of the great and terrible Living God of Hosts. And, would you know it: our record of tyranny and misgovernment is almost non-existent. (Or it was till recently, when political men decided valiantly to plumb some new depths, and purer republicanism is in the atmosphere, thus making the Crown too timid to exercise itself lest it be overthrown - another example of the democratic attitude undermining our liberty. If we were *less* republican in mind we would be *more* free).

Lastly, to call all the worst of a particular species the only "True" versions is a despicable piece of ill-temper or illogic, and represents, in fact, nothing less than surrender to the forces of darkness. But I tell you, He makes us more than conquerors. And Hitler, of course, was voted in!

Beaverbrook said...

Dear Mr. Byers,

While Scott has ably wiped the floor with the inadequacies of your unhappy argument, I am sad to lose a brother in arms, and I regret if our cavalier tastes have in any way offended your roundhead values, values which we all share here.

It's not just a question of semantics, it's about the symbols, the history and traditions of our countries, it's about the regimental heritage of our armed forces. Why would you want to see the symbolic demise of the Royal Australian Air Force or Her Majesty's Australian Ships or the wonderful Australian Coat of Arms?

And freedom wears a crown my friend, as surely as you know Australia's constitution. I think most Australians intuitively see themselves as constitutionalists today, rather than royalists, but that is perfectly fine because the changing sentiments have been accommodated without undoing the traditional framework of the country. I see you are no different in the main, so I welcome you with open arms and thank you for your past contributions.

Moshea bat Abraham said...

So, let me get this straight:

When the elected government does things that you like, it's called a democracy or a republic.

When the elected government does things that you don't like, it's called a "monarchical dictatorship".

And even though historically, even the worst monarchs committed a fraction of the crimes of the democratically elected dictators you cite, and even though the subjects of monarchies have always had far more personal freedom than the citizens of today's democracies, you have decided to lump monarchs in with elected dictators.

This makes no sense. You do realize that, right?

David Byers said...

When a republic stops being democratic it is no longer a true republic but a dictatorship.

Remember I said that Australia is a true republic because of its democratic values, which the Crown has been a part of. Sadly many cling to the monarchy vs republic debate. What we should be involved with is the democracy vs dictatorship debate, we would be on firmer ground. Thus people who wish to get rid of the Crown must show the model they want and how it would work.

J.K. Baltzersen said...

What we should be involved with is the democracy vs dictatorship debate, we would be on firmer ground.

Dear Mr. Byers:

With all due respect, sir, if your world-view is that we have democracies, and everything else is dictatorships, there are some of us with whom debate will be hard, for there is little agreement -- if any at all -- on the basis for the debate.

David Byers said...

Those who wish to change constitutions in democracies must have a written alternative.

Scott said...

I think it's pretty obvious nonsense to say that as soon as a republic ceases to be benign and democratic, it ceases to be a republic; and so the model of government is absolved of all guilt in the matter.

Republicanism - with all its factionalism, humanism and populism - is clearly a far more volatile arrangement, as proved not only in theory but in history!

David Byers said...

I do not believe the debate between democracy and dictatorships is nonsense, it goes to the heart of what matters to the people that being freedom, good governance and so on. The term "Crowned Republic" has been used to describe the UK for many years.

Monarchy which is rulership by one is by definition a dictatorship. It does not matter whether it is Hitler or a Czar, that is rulership by one. The UK and Australia do not operate like that and are thus republics because they are democracies, with a tradition of keeping a powerless monarch as a figurehead.

Many wonder the place of a figurehead King or Queen in a democracy but those people must put forth a written alternative so the people can weigh it up and consider it. Remember just because a nation might use the word “republic” to describe itself does not mean that it is a true republic.

I wonder what everyday folk who struggle to put food on the table would say if one was to ask the abstract question about Constitutional Monarchy vs Republic? People want good governance and the right to express a view.

I posted my last article to revive how people approach the issue. Anyway keep thinking and keep growing and loving.

Beaverbrook said...

I also know you are a staunch Charles the Martyr fan, for his defence of the Catholic faith. He was pretty dictatorial and absolutist as a King - I wonder if you still harbour that deep monarchist affection for the man, or have you put out that flame for good?

Shaftesbury said...

Mr. Byers arguements are nonsense. A true "Constitution of Liberty" has only existed in the Crown Commonwealth within the old Colonies of Settlement.

That constitution is balanced (or mixed) between the Hereditary, the non-elected (as in the House of Lords and the Canadian Senate), and the elected. A system that errs one way or the other (elected or non-elected) is unbalanced and thus not truly free - for a fully elective system leads to anarchy or plutocracy, and a truly non-elective system leads to tyranny.

The genius of the British Monarchy & The Westminster System is in achieving this balance, and thus preserving freedom & order.

The United States is a plutocracy. Russia is a dictatorship in all but name. Give me Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand any day of the week.

Sorry to see one go, but not sorry to see the departure of such simplistic, muddled and confused thinking.

Bonne Chance ...

Right then, where were we?

Lord Best said...

Mr byers displays fundamental ignorance in regards to political theory and the development of constitutional government.
Republics so easily fall into tyranny that even if they then cease to be republics (not true) this is merely another argument against that form of government.

Here are three definitions of a republic from the internet:

A political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them.

A form of government whose head of state is not a monarch.

A republic is a state or country that is not led by a hereditary monarch.

A republic need not be democratic, and even if it is democratic to some extent, it need not be free and open.

To argue that republics are by definition good and that good countries are by definition republican is hihgly illogical.

David Byers said...

“I also know you are a staunch Charles the Martyr fan, for his defence of the Catholic faith. He was pretty dictatorial and absolutist as a King - I wonder if you still harbour that deep monarchist affection for the man, or have you put out that flame for good?”

Thanks Beaverbrook for the timely reminder. My views have developed greatly over the last year. You are quite right that Charles was an absolute ruler and thus to today’s eyes a dictator. However Cromwell was a worse dictator than Charles could ever have been. But that is not here nor there for us today and as I have said my views have developed and I no longer have the fascination for Charles as once I did, though he was a brave man.

I’m surprised by some of the anger my post has produced as I did indeed praise the democratic ideal the UK started in many nations. I don’t live in the UK so the whole unelected House of Lords is up to them, that said I would NEVER like to see such a thing here where I live.

One thought for you, it has been this thought provoking website of Beaverbrook’s that started the questioning of my views, then reading the website “Campaign for Philosophical Freedom” totally took me out of my comfort zone. Also abandoning organized religion, something you all know I have gone from one to the other with, has been for me the major development.

I’m not on a campaign to convince you good people of anything rather to be open, honest as add to debate, I hope that is welcome.

J.K. Baltzersen said...

Dear Mr. Byers:

You equate dictatorship with one-man rule. Yet you label the German Emperor a dictator even though there was a Reichstag?

You label everything that is not a democracy dictatorships. Yet there is, e.g., the concept of an aristocratic republic, which -- if it is true to its principles -- is not one-man rule.

Is dictatorship one-man rule or by definition everything that is not democratic?

We could define dictatorship as rule that dictates you. Let's say the majority dictates you to pay 80 % of your income in taxes. That rule is then dictatorship, but it is also democratic.

You say that a republic that is not democratic is not a true republic. While it has been the norm for republics to be democratic in the post-WWI era, the equation of democracy and republic was fairly alien to people in earlier ages, especially prior to the French Revolution.

The American Founders, e.g., established a republic, but they hated democracy.

Scott said...

I suppose we see once more Chesterton's axiom: when man stops believing in God, he starts believing in anything.

David Byers said...

"I suppose we see once more Chesterton's axiom: when man stops believing in God, he starts believing in anything."

Come on Scott, stop being so melodramatic. I have not said I do not believe in God. I do not believe in the God of the Bible but that is just my view based on my own research. Maybe you should start by sticking to things that are not faith based to present your arguments.

I have pointed out many benefits to the Westminster system please try to take that into account.
Please point out what good religion has done for the people of the Middle-East? (not that that is really a part of this debate).

You must stop trying to demonise people who you have different opinions.

David Byers said...

What is truly amazing to me regarding some of the response here is the lack of ability to see some of the positive things I have said about the Crowned Republic that exist in the UK, Canada, Australia and such countries! The funny thing is that if I had posted the same post on a pro Presidential Republic website they would attack me for even considering that a Monarch can be part of a republic!

Just because I do not believe in religion does not mean that I cannot consider the Crown as an option, just as I cannot dismiss all Presidential systems. It really comes down to deciding on the best system for each nation.

If one gives one loyalty only to democracy, freedom and good governance one can cherry-pick the best elements. Governments should exist to serve people; people do not exist to serve governments!

Aeneas the Younger said...

Mr. Byers:

You are taking this all too personally; however, I would point-out that the last guarantor of representative democracy in the Crown Commonwealth is the Monarchy. Once this last meaningful and apolitical check is removed, then we in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand will be living in Cabinet Dictatorships - reinforced by the iron party discipline that has been gaining in ultimate power since Neville Chamberlain's day.

I would rather be governed by The Queen then by a few hundred little David Margessons.

You need to gain some perspective on these matters. I have been in the bowels of government, and I know how badly they need a Monarch to control it - in the NAME of the people.

David Byers said...

Aeneas the Younger, Thanks for keeping a calm head. We have a real problem in Australia as those Presidential Republicans (ARM) push for change with NO new constitution for people to consider. People have every right to want to rid us of the Crown, if that is what they want, but they do the country a great disservice by not having an alternative system ready to put in place. Constitutions are tricky things to get right,

Scott said...

Yes, you are taking it all too personally.

In the Westminster tradition we can be monstrously violent about the each other's opinions, but the red lines drawn before each side's front-bench prohibit the reach of each other's swords.

Fellow '99 Referendum Veteran said...

David, I posted in another thread a while ago to urge you to hang in there.

The guys on this site are all a bit OTT for our practical, unsentimental Australian tastes. But that's ok - they know it, and we know it. Just because they want to camp it up in fancy regalia doesn't mean they are any less 'on side' to what you and I have campaigned for, both through ACM and in 1999 during the referendum.

You are a sensible Australian constitutionalist that displays healthy scepticism about the alternative/s, which is what I, and probably 90% of ACM are. Don't base your views on the Australian Constitution on these guys, much as I find this site entertaining.

I was at a private dinner hosted by a prominent republican recently where a Rudd minister admitted that both he and his children - at least - would not see a republic in their lifetimes. Labor know it, the wider political elite know it, we constitutionalists know it, the non-Fairfax media is SLOWLY realising it - we're winning the long game. And Australia is the better for it.

Hang in there David. Just let the Yanks and Canucks camp it up on this site... :-D

David Byers said...

Fellow '99 Referendum Veteran said... ,
Sorry but I'd love to know who you are! As I always say our loyalty should only be to Good government, freedom and democracy!

adams said...

David you might take a look at my post on my blog about this.