Today is the Queen’s official birthday and as I am an ardent supporter of the monarchy, I mention it. Not only am I a supporter of the British monarchy but am a supporter of monarchy, generally. In part, it is my vintage romantic and preschool heart that adores royalty. I am rare among socialists for being a monarchist yet there is more than my childish and old-timey romantic love of things anachronistically gilded, classic, grand, and shiny that implores me to lend my heart to the cause of having a pretend government for ornamental purposes. For a liberal society to function, it needs a civic religion. Now, while this can include an actual religion for ceremonial purposes, it has to be something accessible to everyone. Something that emphasizes personal responsibility, civic duty, and engenders a familial community among the citizenry that is earnestly secular.
Rawls, among my chief philosophical enemies, thought that abolishing anything unifying or emotional in the culture was the insurance of liberalism in society yet, as we have found, lacking emotion or ritual in the public sphere just leaves people alienated, wanting for community, and devoid of meaning, all of which contribute to them finding that meaning in enthusiast subcultures and political groups which, for many reasons, skew toward pseudoscience and nationalism. Once having done that, it threatens, not defends liberal society. Monarchy and the virtues an aristocratic system possesses creates a civic ritualism that is mostly secular and liberal, thus open to everybody, and thus is both compatible with a pluralistic society and satisfies the psychological needs otherwise fed by the aforementioned pseudoscience and nationalism.
Without that civic religion, it becomes very difficult to impart ethics, aesthetics, a sense of siblinghood, a cultural canon, and much more on the diverse and disparate peoples of the population. Royalty is not the head of the political system but of the cultural system and without them the cultural system is, if it is headed by anyone, it is headed by who the free market choses: celebrities. The values of which may or may not be good values. The benefits of royalty are that their actual personalities are secondary to their myth, their legend, and their fictionalized portrayals. The House of Windsor may be a coke-fueled frat party on the inside, I don’t know, but so long they are a wholesome fairy-tale on the outside, they are doing their jobs sufficiently. They are supposed to embody the best of our society and be role models for the other adults who lack kindergarten teachers telling them to be kind, gracious, and to have the other good traits.
It is an institution where the myth of nobility and chivalry is both kept and broadcast. It sets the precedent that whether or not something is against one’s religion or secular code, it is either noble or ignoble. A dearly needed item for a pluralistic society. Furthermore, it establishes aesthetic standards which are needed to improve the mental health of the population. To maintain a broken-window policy followed by the people so that in the mainstream, people may reap the confidence, the happiness, the dignity, and the other psychological perks of living in a well-crafted audiovisual landscape. Also, being the voice of hope, courage, and strength in the darkest hours of both people collectively and as individuals. To be a story of light to shine to into the everyday and rare catastrophes that occur. Real political heads of state aren’t in a position to handle the technical and the emotional angles of a crisis, presidents and prime ministers should mostly do politics and leave the emotions to royalty.
Royalty should do everything emotional and apolitical that the culture needs an institution for. I not only support royalty but a full aristocracy from dukes to earls to counts. The royalty can comfort national tragedies but not local ones. All of the functions of royalty need to be localized, as well. The mayor need not be bothered with the Blessing of the Fleet or leading the Thanksgiving parade, he or she has important work to do managing property taxes, sewage, rabid animals, and the many other things that don’t pause for holidays. If the county had a count and countess, the local politicians would be freed up to do politics. Politics is not supposed to be show business and it is unfair to expect politicians to balance dressing up in costume for rituals and code-switching from professional to emotional when trying to handle a very stressful crisis.
Lastly, both for the reasons they play the primary emotional role in government and are the titular executive, they can act as a placeholder that elected politicians might use to be authoritarian. In an age of declining liberalism and increasing authoritarian populism, it is important that measures are taken to reduce the propensity for those things and defend democracy by whatever means we have. Largely divorcing public emotions from offices with real political power, we avert the dangers of populism. The population will be electing a technocrat and their emotional needs are to be satisfied by an unelected family with fake political power. Furthermore, by playing an openly anachronistic role of fake autocracy, they are a constant symbol of humanity’s progress. Dictators wearing business suits and no crown don’t scare people but having a monarch dressed in a red velvet cape with a gem-studded crown sends the message “remember autocracy, we abolished it” Those who support authoritarianism are like anti-vaxxers, they’ve never seen the disease and it is the fault of period dramas for not showing conquered diseases that they’ve never seen them. Reenacting autocracy would have a similar effect to period dramas with smallpox on anti-vaxxers, it would dissuade.
Having aristocracy both partially solves the psychological crisis that has led to the decline of liberalism and also is a practical matter that relieves the burdens politicians shouldn’t be required to bear. The same person trying to haggle with construction and insurance companies to rebuild a burned-down school shouldn’t be the same person acting as the warm parental figure for a community and it would be a constant reenactment of when autocrats did have power and engender an appreciation of liberalism. Without a strong cultural institution devoted to culture in our society or many reminders of the political traditions progress defeated, liberalism’s decline may be worsened. It would behoove us to resurrect the beautiful and grand monarchical tradition as well as the aristocracy lower than it. There are many setups that can work, for America, I believe the Holy Roman Empire is the best model given our size, breadth, and diversity. I pray that I will live to see the day that monarchy is universal and deeply engrained in our and every culture.