Thursday, 18 November 2010

Queen Kate


Karl Marx spent a good bit of his life as an exile in England. It was the place to be, the place at the most advanced stage of industrial development, the place with the most developed working class; it was the place where revolution, by the lights of his theory, was bound to come, had to come. After all, it was historically inevitable.

Except it did not come; it never would come. For all his time in this country he acquired no understanding at all of the English way of doing things. We do not rebel: we absorb, we adapt, we adjust. According to Marx the bourgeois should have overthrown the aristocracy, just as they in their turn would be overthrown by the proletariat. But no- it was the middle classes who became the measure of all things, not the aristocracy or the proletariat, the middle-class who would be the motor of change from the high Victorian age onwards.

The truth did actually dawn on the old prophet towards the end of his life. He began to share the cynicism of Friedrich Engels, his collaborator, a factory owner from whom Karl had not the least hesitation of skimming off a spot of ‘surplus value’ now and then to support his own bourgeois lifestyle. The English proletariat, Marx said, “"was becoming more and more bourgeois, so that the most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat as well as a bourgeoisie."

Marx! thou should’st be living at this hour. Yes, he should, because he would be able to see that he got one thing right at least: the bourgeois advance has continued. We have a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat, yes, but now we have a bourgeois monarchy!

This is a long and convoluted way of saying that I’m absolutely delighted at the announcement that Prince William is to marry Kate Middleton, his long-standing amour from Saint Andrews days, an impeccably bourgeois girl! Actually she is more; she has poise and she has elegance, the most fantastic dress sense I’ve seen on a public figure for such a long time. I think she will make an absolutely delightful queen for a new monarchy, a monarchy for the twenty-first century, a monarchy for the people, by the people, of the people.

She won’t be the first commoner to marry into the royal house, an honour that belongs to Elizabeth Woodville, who married Edward IV in 1464. There have been others since, not just commoners but people without any aristocratic lineage. I'm being disingenuous, though, in suggesting that that Kate is the harbinger of a new middle-class monarchy; that’s long been in evolution, a monarchy of quite domesticity and familial duty; a monarchy really created by Victoria and Albert, impeccably bourgeois in taste and morality despite their disreputable Hanoverian lineage. Edward VII was really the last king with any vestiges of the old fashion. Thereafter it was comfort, duty and dependable mediocrity! Now Kate brings a touch of colour and style, a new bottle for old wine. I wish her well, our once and future queen.

82 comments:

  1. What's your view of the fundamental legitimacy of monarchy, Ana? How about primogeniture?

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Calvin, I'm a student of seventeenth century English history, as I'm sure you are aware. I know the consequences that follow from the abolition of monarchy. I believe that it is an essential part of English identity; it's part of our tradition, part of who we are are a nation. It's transcendent in the way that a presidency never could be, a focus for the whole nation. The alternatives (President Tony Blair!) are just too awful to contemplate. I would prefer to maintain as much of the sacred and irrational (yes, I use that word deliberately) aspects of the institution as possible, but I do think there is a case for modifying primogeniture to allow the oldest child to succeed the reigning monarch. Sacred and irrational but not resistant to change, that's the key.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Adam, I'm sorry, your view seems to me to be based on nothing but prejudice, an unwillingness to face the facts of history or of life, a political view i would hesitant even to call reactionary. One moment you describe Tony Blair as a fascist; the next he's a communist. You remind me in so many ways of Will Roper in A Man for All Seasons. Do you remember Thomas More's words to him? "Listen, Roper. Two years ago you were a passionate Churchman; now you're a passionate-Lutheran. We must just pray that when your head's finished turning, your face is to the front again."

    Middle Class reformers may have devised the Union Workhouses, but it was Middle-Class radicals, particularly Charles Dickens, who mounted the most effective campaign against them. The middle-classes did not 'inflitrate' politics, a laughably inexact word that suggests some kind of Militant conspiracy, though I rather think that's indeed what you have in mind. Politics, rather, expanded throughout the nineteenth century to embrace the Middle Classes, in such a way that social revolution was avoided. It was a question of evolution and adaptation, the English way of doing things, which neither Marx nor you undersatand. Your silly talk about plutocracy reminds me of nazi arguments about the Jews, who, if they could not destroy Germany through Marxist revolution, would resort to this other weapon in their arsenal.

    As far as your 'solution' nobody cares, especially Prince William, the only person who matters here. But, poor Kate, what a burden she has to carry; what original sin, the crime of being bourgeois! Sandra Howard is vastly more elegant, is she? You said before you had no understanding of female fashion. Now I know you have no understanding!

    Anyway, I look forward to this wonderful event, the first big royal wedding of my life. I wish them both all of the best.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I often agree with Adam. More often I don't.

    Kate is a sweet, charming girl. Good luck to the pair of them.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anastasia

    I have mixed feelings about allowing the eldest child to succeed, even if that is a female.

    Had this applied to the succession after Queen Victoria..........

    ReplyDelete
  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  19. David, yes, indeed. Good point about Queen Victoria. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thatcher gave this country and its economy a new lease of life; she dealt with union militants in the most effective way possible, in such a way that there would be no repetition of the disaster of the Heath years; she gave this country a prestige on the international stage that it had not enjoyed in decades, reversing all predictions of decline. Your point about the middle classes 'destroying' modern Britain is complete nonsense. It was middle-class enterprise, energy and determination that made modern Britain. I pass no comment at all on the Duchess of York's dress sense. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Oops, yes, sorry - the Duchess of Cornwall. I could pass plenty of comments on Fergie's dress sense if you really want me to!

    Sorry, Adam, I really must go, but I could argue my point into the ground without getting anywhere. We disagree; best leave it at that.

    I've spent so much time here this morning that I don't have time to look at your new contributions on One Nation. I will be interested to read them after the weekend, especially the one on Christmas. I have my own blog here the festival and the puritans, one I call Christmas died at Naseby fight. Anyway, long live the the alliance between the toffs and middle class. :-))

    ReplyDelete
  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Kate is a lovely young woman ,I wish her and the prince a long and happy life together. May they prosper and have many little Hanovers. This may well be the rush of fresh air that can clear the cobwebs out of Adams skull.

    ReplyDelete
  32. @ Adam: The civil war to come will be based on an attempt to impose a theocratic - political ideology.

    ReplyDelete
  33. There is much sentimentality about the forms of monarchy and the desirability of continuity for the psychic well-being of the state. I'm asking about something more fundamental. What is its basis for legitimacy? What makes a monarch different from any rich thug with a gang of flunkies operating a protection racket? It's not enough that they be nice people with good manners. Let's be honest: often they are neither. And legitimacy by right of inheritance is a rule more honoured in the breach . . . history is largely composed of regime changes accomplished by regicide.

    I sympathize with those who look at a Mugabe or a Blair and shudder at the thought of replacing HM with such . . . but both were/are monarchs in all but name, whereas HM is hardly a monarch at all, except in courtesy. The same can be said for almost every nation, except, perhaps Brunei and Arabia. Are those models you would defend?

    Dig back to Ur and ancient Egypt then, and find me your reasons for preferring monarchy to theocracy, democracy, or anarchy.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Adam,
    Can you justify your comment " ...his whore of a soon to be wife"?

    I'm thinking of the old adage - "If you can't put up, shut up" - and I'm wondering if you can't put (whatever it is) up.

    :-)

    ReplyDelete
  35. The snarky working class "Yank' in me is baffled by all the hoopla. I've never gotten all the attention this family gets in the States outside of envy and romantic hallucinations I love you, Ana but I'll pass on this.

    Coll

    ReplyDelete
  36. Calvin, forgive me; I'm not really in the right frame of mind (too tipsy) to address your points this evening. I will on Sunday.

    ReplyDelete
  37. CI, I did not notice the use of that word. The comment in question has now been removed. I won't tolerate its repetition, directly or indirectly. This is not a democracy and there are limits to free speech. I cannot abide bad taste.

    ReplyDelete
  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Anthony, thank you very much. Your good wishes for our future Queen are appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Oh, Adam, I see you’ve taken up the cause of another twittering twit! I’m not at all sure why you are bestowing benedictions (no longer an atheist, I see) on the Church of England and the Daily Mail. This republican bishop, this gratuitously offensive man, is not the Church of England and the Daily Mail is only a newspaper reporting a story. Broadbent’s broadside was aimed not just against William and Kate but against the institution of royalty itself. So, you can add republicanism to your growing list of inconsistent and mutually exclusive causes. Next time you mention Prince Charles on your blog I do hope you will remember to call him Big Ears, which seems to be Bishop Four Eyed Fat Belly’s favoured appellation. Anyway, you will be able to join him in France on the day of the royal wedding, or any royal other occasion, for that matter, to celebrate a ‘republican day,’ free from all of this ‘nauseating tosh.’ This comes from a man who is a leading member of a church in which the monarch is supreme governor. I expect if he was a Catholic he would be denouncing the present pope as a pederast and a Nazi. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  46. My claws are out; I intend to scratch deep, as you will see shortly. Thanks for the inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Calvin, I'm going to tackle your points in a separate blog.

    ReplyDelete
  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  50. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  51. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  52. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Adam, you are also a fantasist. No member of the royal family is disregarding Parliament or the Privy Council. Yes, you loath republicans so much you offer blessings to a republican bishop!

    ReplyDelete
  54. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  55. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  57. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  58. For the love of God, please try to retain a sense of proportion. Not only are you utterly humourless but you strike far too many attitudes for my taste. I feel sure that William followed every correct proceedure. But, there again, I don't have your inside knowledge and sense of certainty on these matters. William will be king, good or bad, I could not care less.

    ReplyDelete
  59. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  60. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  61. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  62. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  63. I love being mean to Garrie, especially when he tries to tell me that what my extended family didn't exist.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Adam, I'm not going to publish Citizen Pete style churlish remarks directed against this marriage. I make no apologies for that. Free speech here is not absolute.

    I think I said to you that I could list plenty of queens of history with long hair, not simply over the last two hundred years, but the point is too trivial to consider further.

    Your heroes, Scargill, Saddam, Galloway, Putin, whoever, are not my heroes. Your politics, I have to say, are confused beyond my comprehension, as are your passions.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Jeremy, I don't like people being mean here.

    ReplyDelete
  66. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  68. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Adam, the hair thing is crazy. Drop it. You can take that as a victory if you wish. I might be easy to ask Joseph Chamberlain a question. I don't think I would have the patience to wait for an answer. I honestly don't know when your world, or your life, began.

    ReplyDelete
  70. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  71. In case you get confused on the latter point it's a reference to your 1979 observation.

    ReplyDelete
  72. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  73. It was a happy day amidst all the chaos that is my life.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Rehan, I suppose all of our lives are a little bit chaotic at the present.

    ReplyDelete
  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  76. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  77. I'm sorry but I have nothing to add to this.

    ReplyDelete
  78. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete