“You’re not wrong, Walter, you’re just an asshole…”
Most of us, Britons included, seem to think of the British monarchy as a harmless, if goofy, bit of antiquated tradition. Rendered irrelevant by virtue of having an actual government that calls the shots, the monarchy is good for some novel tabloid distraction when it’s time for a royal wedding (or a royal divorce) and as something to put on coins, but otherwise, it seems useless and innocuous.
Innocuous? Morrissey couldn’t disagree more.
The British pop legend and former iconic front-man of The Smiths wrote an opinion piece for Hot Press to accompany the Queens’s trip to Ireland — and promptly compared her to a psychotic dictator.
On principle, Morrissey makes a good point. Monarchies are inherently undemocratic, and to the extent that they work against meritocracy they work against the defining principle of modern progress. Of the Queen’s upcoming trip to Ireland, he writes: “The message from the Queen will be the same as ever: who we are born to is more important than what we achieve in life.”
True. He even makes a compelling argument that England still engages in imperialist fascism: “The Queen…has the power to give back the six counties to the Irish people, allowing Ireland to be a nation once again. The fact that she has not done so is Fascism in full flow. What else could it be? Name one other European country that is controlled by its neighbour?”
Also a tough point to argue with: imperialism has gone hopelessly out of style. Ireland at this point is playing catch-up to countries of the former Soviet Union, who reclaimed their sovereignty a couple decades ago.
But then he gets around to this: For a broad historical view of what the Queen is and how she ‘rules,’ examine Gaddafi or Mubarak, and see if you can spot any difference. You won’t be able to.”
No difference? First, England does have a multi-party political system that holds the country’s political power, whose Prime Minister and officials are elected and serve terms. This makes it different than a dictatorship.
Second, the Queen of England is not turning the military on her own people and gunning down civilians in the street like Gaddafi, or embezzling billions of dollars from her people like Mubarak.
The Queen might be a symbolic detriment to the concept, but if you’re going to compare someone to Gaddafi, they should really be committing some serious atrocities. Otherwise why not compare her to, say, the president of China?
And speaking of China — Morrissey recently got in trouble (again) for a racist-tinged interview with The Guardian in which he said. “You can’t help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies.” In his article for Hot Press he writes, “The very existence of the Queen … is entirely against any notion of democracy, and is against freedom of speech.” This might be true in theory, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be cramping Morrissey’s free speech any more than the Queen of England is gunning down Britons in Trafalgar Square.