By *Jomo Sanga Thomas
(“Plain Talk” Sept. 16, 2022)
Guest column by Chris Hedges
“Unchecked legislatures could be as despotic as unchecked monarchs.” — Thomas Paine
The fawning adulation of Queen Elizabeth in the United States, which fought a revolution to get rid of the monarchy, and in Great Britain is in direct proportion to the fear gripping a discredited, incompetent and corrupt global ruling elite.
The global oligarchs are not sure that the next generation of mediocrities is up to the job. Let’s hope they are right.
Monarchy obscures the crimes of empire and wraps them in nostalgia. It exalts white supremacy and racial hierarchy. It justifies class rule. It buttresses an economic and social system that callously discards and often consigns to death those considered the lesser breeds, most of whom are people of colour. The queen’s husband, Prince Phillip, who died in 2021, was notorious for making racist and sexist remarks, politely explained away in the British press as “gaffes”.
The cries of the millions of victims of empire; the thousands killed, tortured, raped and imprisoned during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya; the 13 Irish civilians gunned down in “Bloody Sunday;” the more than 4,100 First Nations children who died or went missing in Canada’s residential schools, and the hundreds of thousands killed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan are drowned out by cheers for royal processions and the aristocracy. The coverage of the queen’s death is mind-numbingly vapid.
The royals are oligarchs. They are guardians of their class. King Charles III owns 6.6 billion acres of land. British monarchs are worth almost US$28 billion. The British public will provide a US$33 million subsidy to the Royal Family over the next two years, although the average household in the UK saw its income fall for the longest period since records began in 1955 and 227,000 households experience homelessness in Britain.
Royals, to the ruling class, are worth the expense. They are effective tools of subjugation. In 1953, Her Majesty’s Government sent three warships, along with 700 troops, to its colony British Guiana, suspended the constitution and overthrew the democratically elected government of Cheddi Jagan. Her Majesty’s Government helped to build and long supported the apartheid government in South Africa. Her Majesty’s Government savagely crushed the Mau Mau independence movement in Kenya from 1952 to 1960, herding 1.5 million Kenyans into concentration camps where many were tortured. British soldiers castrated suspected rebels and sympathisers, often with pliers, and raped girls and women. By the time India won independence in 1947 after two centuries of British colonialism, Her Majesty’s Government had looted US$45 trillion from the country and violently crushed a series of uprisings. Torture, extrajudicial assassinations, public hangings and mass executions by the British were routine. The British state attempts to obstruct lawsuits stemming from its colonial history. Its settlements, 47 million pounds, are a tiny fraction of the compensation paid to British slave owners in 1835, once it — at least formally — abolished slavery.
During her 70-year reign, the queen never offered an apology or called for reparations.
The point of social hierarchy and aristocracy is to sustain a class system that makes the rest of us feel inferior. The monarchy is the bedrock of hereditary rule and inherited wealth. This caste system filters down from the Nazi-loving House of Windsor to the organs of state security and the military. It regiments society and keeps people, especially the poor and the working class, in their “proper” place.
It was not until the 1960s that “coloured immigrants or foreigners” were permitted to work in clerical roles in the royal household, although they had been hired as domestic servants. The royal household and its heads are legally exempt from laws that prevent race and sex discrimination, an apartheid system benefitting the Royal Family alone.
Paine, the author of the most widely read political essays of the 18th century, Rights of Man, The Age of Reason and Common Sense, blasted the monarchy as a con. “A French bastard landing with an armed banditti and establishing himself as King of England against the consent of the natives, is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original … The plain truth is that the antiquity of the English monarchy will not bear looking into,” he wrote of William the Conqueror. He ridiculed hereditary rule. “Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.” He went on: “One of the strangest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings is that nature disproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an ass for a lion.” He called the monarch “the royal brute of England”.
When the British ruling class tried to arrest Paine, he fled to France where he was one of two foreigners elected to serve as a delegate in the National Convention set up after the French Revolution. He denounced the calls to execute Louis XVI. “He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression,” Paine said. “For if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” Unchecked legislatures, he warned, could be as despotic as unchecked monarchs. When he returned to America from France, he condemned slavery and the wealth and privilege accumulated by the new ruling class, including George Washington, who had become the richest man in the country. Even though Paine had done more than any single figure to rouse the country to overthrow the British monarchy, he was turned into a pariah, especially by the press, and forgotten. He had served his usefulness. Six mourners attended his funeral, two of whom were Black.
There is a pathetic yearning among many in the United States and Britain to be linked in some tangential way to royalty. White British friends often have stories about ancestors that tie them to some obscure aristocrat. This desire to be part of the club, or validated by the club, is a potent force the ruling class has no intention of giving up, even if hapless King Charles III, who along with his family treated his first wife Diana with contempt, makes a mess of it.
*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].
It’s strange that the son of a third world country who has never lived in a monarchy would be so staunchly against it. It’s as if most SVG university students are inclined towards Karl Marx’s theories. I wonder what your psychological profile would reveal.
For the life of me I cannot see why so many people look up to these people they are the biggest welfare recipients living off the back of the poor. A lot of people don’t read the history of the Monarchy and those that claim to love them just turn a blind eye on the horrible history behind them.
They are the most corrupt family in the world a mistress […] is now queen consort and a adulterer is now king. The queen was an enabler just like the rest of them […] I have no respect for anyone who is representing the Monarch none what soever once it is under the throne.
God save King Charles III.
Long may he reign over us, happy and glorious!
So, Jomo what would you suggest, Stalin, Ralph Gonsalves, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, or perhaps someone like yourself Jomo Thomas.
Usually, upstarts are far worse than monarchs, the monarchs do not tend to have that scumbag quality that the upstarts have.
Upstarts quickly become corrupted by power “Power has long been linked to the stigma of corruption. Three studies indicated that different power concepts have different implications for corruption behaviour and perception.
Chris Hedges is one of the most decent, impressive reporter around today. I absolutely admire and applaud his intellect, his principles, his moral bearing..
I highly recommend his postings on YouTube such as The Chris Hedges Report, Real News Network and his guest appearances on various other podcasts.
Your mind will grow exponentially as a result.
Brilliant article, Thomas!! Your comments and analysis are spot on, and I could not agree with you more. The western media’s excessive coverage of the pomp and ceremony associated with the queen’s passing is nauseating, but predictable.
The atrocities committed by the British monarchy and, by extension ,the UK government against the peoples of Africa and the Caribbean could only be satisfied with reparative justice.
So why alyo still calling the Police force Royal, and the prison, her majestry prison. All the talk about Crown council and so on? Boy drink water and shut up.
As black people history teachers us that which is facts
We are idiots for adapting this evil institution into our daily lives, government, sports and religion. We have “The royal this, the royal that” we [lay their cricket and football, their images are on our currency etc, etc. Where are the people in out population that lifts a finger to change this? Where are they? Complaining should be the first step in eradicating a system that raped, killed, enslaved and worked our ancestors to death.
Jomo, you betrayed us before, now you want us to trust you. How stupid do you think we are?
Jomo, a very interesting article. Next time ‘talk’ about how our ancestors in Hairouna suffered at the machinations and enrichment of the British oligarchs. Talk about the enslavement, genocide and mass deportation of our indigenous people.
Further to the comments made by Gleason earlier, let’s remove all vintages of that oppressive era. Rename the British street names, refuse to dole out colonial knighthood titles like ‘Sir’ etc. Police dress and regalia should bear no semblance to the ‘Royal’ colonial past. Rename Victoria Park. Rename places that bear the names of the colonialist rulers. Replace ‘Iron-man’ with a statue of Chatoyer and place it in a prominent spot in our capital city. One can solicit many more noteworthy opinions.
We cannot change history but surely we can remove the pictures that bear witness to the wicked past.
Jomo, you know what you learned in school books nothing else. The smartest people are not the ones who went to graduate school.
Keep on dreaming Arnold your ignorance precedes your fortune.
Chris Hedges fails to acknowledge that if all the formal trappings of rank and privilege disappeared, including the monarchy, differential privilege would not, as they did not when the monarchies in Russia, China, and elsewhere were overthrown.
Indeed, such privileges are merely hidden from overt public display, making them more pernicious and predatory in the process when this happens.
None of the billionaires in America wear crowns — indeed they pretend to be just like everyone else in rank and power — but they nonetheless rule over us in a way the Royal family never has.
Including the Gonsalves dynasty.
Comments are closed.