A few thought prompted by today's events -
A major headache with political systems is giving a name to them. Language wilts under a barrage of evasion, euphemism, misinformation, malice and simple laziness. Communist, Marxist, Nazi, fascist, socialist, liberal, neoliberal, neoconservative, conservative, libertarian, SJW – political language does not clarify. Maybe we should work on the basis that this lack of clarity is no accident and political language is not intended to clarify anything. Yet a huge number of futile political arguments revolve around the issue of names.
The naming issue is so fraught that many names are freely used as wildly inaccurate or virtually meaningless terms of abuse. More neutral terms such as left, right and centre don’t work either - there is only one clear political monster and that is the centre, its elites and their hunger for control. They are akin to a black hole sucking everything in, a hole from which nothing ever escapes, not even light.
As we are stuck with elites and as they tend to congregate around a figurehead why not recycle the term ‘monarchy’ for the political black hole, that force of gravity at the centre of all stable political trends? Why not see where it takes us? There are excellent reasons why one shouldn’t do this, but political systems evolve so there is no reason why an ancient system such as monarchy should not have evolved too. Why would it disappear from the political psyche as the old hereditary version fades away or becomes sidelined as it has in the UK?
Maybe monarchy did not go anywhere; maybe it merely evolved by shaking off some of the pomp and pageantry and by sucking the life out of democracy. The obvious danger in going down this route is that one will be ignored as a maverick or simply misunderstood, but for anyone who questions mainstream trends, these are the least of their worries.
In that case we could use the term ‘monarchy’ as a kind of flag for those centralising political trends which are clearly aimed at a rigorous narrowing of a citizens’ responsibility and freedom to rely on a personal morality. That was always a problem for monarchies – competing moralities. Obviously this is no answer to the endless resources of political evasion, but if we view modern politics through a monarchist filter then maybe a few things will become clearer.
For example, monarchy is ancient and tends to be based on a hierarchy of narrow and more or less compulsory identities such as nation, race, party, religion and social class. These identities offer security and a sense of belonging under the supreme head surrounded by a supreme elite and a bureaucracy to keep the taxes coming in.
All political systems use identity for such cohesive purposes, they always have. The identities vary and the degree of compulsion varies and therein lies another clue to our own times – compulsory political identities.
Virtue-signalling does not only signal virtue, it signals identity. Of the two, identity is the more important. Look at me, I have an approved identity, I am not a threat to the regime, I am safe, I have no personal identity.
To take a problematic example - identity-signalling allows people who are white, male, middle class, heterosexual, prosperous or Christian to repudiate what are not favoured political identities. That is to say a political repudiation rather than an actual repudiation. It allows such people to adopt another, more politically secure identity and in this respect is far more flexible than was ever allowed by traditional monarchy. This may be monarchy evolving, shedding the religious constraints and the nationalism but keeping the political core – the authoritarian politics of identity.
One can be conspicuously anti-racist, dress down, be aggressively tolerant and conspicuously non-religious for example. Throw in some recycling and we’re almost there, inherited identity expunged and fake identity secured.
It isn’t traditional monarchy, but modern identity politics could be seen as an evolved adaptation of older monarchist hierarchies. As if monarchy never went away but still lurks in the collective psyche, feeding on our innate need for a secure political identity.
Not to be taken too seriously, any of this, but as political correctness tightens its grip, as the irrational becomes politically rational, then political language needs to evolve if we are to describe what is happening without the destructive curse of ambiguity. The black hole needs a name.