Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 52 Number 13, June 4, 2022 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Queen's Platinum Jubilee

Sovereignty Must Lie with the People

Photo: Republic

The Platinum Jubilee is underlining that reforms are needed to break with a system which has been in place since the "historic compromise" of 1688, and perfected since, but is now in crisis, presenting a block to the progress of society and a modern democracy.

The propaganda is that the Platinum Jubilee represents a "moment of unity", the Queen representing not only a head of state, but "head of the nation". This is a conception promoted by, for example, the Sovereign Grant Report 2020-21, significantly with a photograph on the cover of the Queen's Speech of April 5, 2020, when the Queen addressed "the nation" in conditions of the lockdown of the pandemic, to calm everyone and promote that "we're all in it together". In other words, this is the conception of "One Nation", which the Queen is characterised as embodying, the apex of the unwritten constitution.

The Sovereign Grant Report says thus: "The Queen's role as Head of Nation is as significant as Her role as Head of State, and can be divided into four key elements - unity and national identity, continuity and stability, achievement and success, and support of service."

This is an imposition, when society and the people are facing such crises, when what is needed is resolution of these crises. The ruling elites are riven with concerns of continuity, of stability, of how to head off change in these circumstances. It is a crisis of the ruling elites, which they are not willing or capable of resolving, but only the people are, striving for the New as against the Old, striving to acquire and implement a world outlook in step with the times.

Photo: Republic

In this Platinum Jubilee, this is what the media have been mobilised to shore up, wall to wall. Dissenting voices have been shut out, real problems facing the people have been sidelined. And precisely because these old arrangements are on their last legs. The Queen may be touted as embodying these virtues, but this will be their last "moment". As the Sovereign Grant Report puts it: "The continued visibility of The Queen and members of the Royal Family during the Covid-19 pandemic has provided many people with a sense of continuity and reassurance at a time when the public has been asked to make fundamental sacrifices and adaptations to the way we live our daily lives."

This sense is also embodied in the "national anthem", which is an appeal to the Almighty to protect and "save" the Queen, and confound her enemies. There even remains on the statute books the Treason Felony Act of 1848, which provides the death penalty, in lieu of transportation (whether to Australia or Rwanda it does not say, as long as it is "beyond the seas"), to "compass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend": to deprive the Queen of her crown; to levy war against the Queen, or

to "move or stir" any foreigner to invade the United Kingdom or any other country belonging to the Queen. The Queen's is not merely a formal or constitutional role.

The theme of "the nation" was carried forward in the Queen's Platinum Jubilee message, saying that the nation could look to the future with "confidence and enthusiasm". This is not only meant to contradict the experience of working people in the midst of their struggles against austerity and the cost-of-living crisis, who are aware that it is up to them and not the monarchy to speak out and work out what favours them. It is also meant to suggest that in the midst of the problem of succession and peaceful transition, the people should put their faith in the discredited other royals and grant them some goodwill. It is meant to lull the people into thinking the monarch, rather than presiding over a violent and anarchic system which has had its day, is guaranteeing sweetness and light if only we whistle a happy tune and hand over our voice to those that pledge allegiance to and represent the person of state. Its essence is the anti-consciousness of the monarch, this being representing some higher fictitious entity.

Though there was a passing mention of the Commonwealth in the Queen's message, the recent rejections of the monarchy by the people of Barbados, Jamaica, Canada and elsewhere have made this a sensitive subject for the sovereign.

Photo: Republic

This all goes to underline that the Covenant Thesis invented by Thomas Hobbes in 1651 after the English Civil War had ensured the demise of Charles I and the abolition of the House of Lords in order to provide the country with a structure that establishes a fictitious person as head of state. The relations between ruled and rulers are based on a hierarchy which keeps the people disempowered through the institutions created to perpetuate the rule of the elites. To this day it is based on a medieval outlook whereby rights are privileges which can be given or taken away on the basis of those the rulers declare are legal or illegal, or worthy at any particular time, defined according to what serves private interests. This is almost self-evident, but the disinformation creates so much noise that, while fighting for their rights, working people are also encouraged to lose their bearings when it comes to the monarch.

It is high time that this "apex at the base" should be overturned, the fictitious person of state toppled, and sovereignty vested in the people, who have been kept out of power and had their voice represented by others on the political stage. This was not overlooked as the ordinary participants in the English Civil War and the army based on a new model discussed the issue of how democracy for the people should be brought into being. This discussion was cut short, not least by the power of Cromwell's army itself, and in that sense the democratic revolution needs to be brought to its logical conclusion. Now is the opportune moment for working people to discuss those issues, and how to institute new arrangements so that sovereignty lies with the people.

The people are the decisive factor despite being cast as "subjects". They can tear down the veil that is placed over the relations of human beings to human beings, and of human beings with nature. They can break with adherence to what are called democratic institutions with the sovereign guaranteeing well-being for all, while in actual fact these institutions are grounded in racist and anachronistic theories of government which perpetrate elite rule, so-called "responsible government", "representative democracy" and all the trappings of some by-gone age, while the royals exist as parasites on the body politic.

Sovereignty must lie with the people, who can make a break by speaking in their own name, activating the human factor/social consciousness and changing the situation in their favour.


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