It’s odd the world still cares about European royals, whose primary contribution to history has been wars, repression and poverty for ordinary people so that a handful of twits could live in extreme excess, admiring themselves in the mirror. Not just the British ruling houses — the Hapsburgs, Romanovs, Hohenzollerns and other royal lines mainly brought misery to their subjects, and this was so even if Thomas Hobbes was right about corrupt aristocracy being preferable to bedlam. ALIQUATENUS MELIOR CHAOS should have been on every medieval royal family crest. That’s Latin for “We Are Somewhat Better Than Chaos,” at least according to the Google universal translator.
Perhaps anachronistic royalty draws crowds and media gushing because society adores celebrity, which the House of Windsor continues to possess. But through no effort of its own: The glamour, money and position of the Windsor crowd is inherited, not earned. Society’s admiration should go to those who attain their positions via merit.
Yet there is continuing enthusiasm for anachronistic monarchs of several nations: During the baby countdown outside Clarence House, crowds showed up in Brussels to cheer for new King Philippe, who may be the most irrelevant human being ever to don a purple sash. Fantasy may explain this. Mired in quiet desperation, people like to imagine being born into wealth and glory, treated as special and chosen. Fantasies about sports, sex or money help men and women get through their day, and getting through the day is important.
But let us not forget that kings, queens, princes, princesses, dukes, duchesses and the rest have had an almost entirely negative impact on the human family. Billions of people across the centuries would have lived better lives if the curse of royalty had not arisen. As for empire — whether British or in any other form, it is a hateful, destructive concept used by the few to bleed dry the many. Britons shouldn’t feel nostalgia for their lost empire, they should feel shame an empire once was held. Americans ought to join Indians, Pakistanis, Kenyans, Egyptians, Chinese, Afghans, Boers, Burmese and others in contempt for the memory of the British Empire.
Gregg Easterbrook, “Tuesday Morning Quarterback: NFL could set a better safety example”, ESPN, 2013-08-20
August 21, 2013
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