QE II Reflects Brit Wisdom Since 1688
change needs to be slow and steady
The fact of Queen Elizabeth II reflects, I think, an inchoate tendency in British culture and politics since the English Civil War in the 1640s to keep the lid on.
After all, before the Civil War the Brits had their inter-feudal War of the Roses, thoughtfully staged to provide the glovemaker’s son William a bunch of plots for his plays. And before that a jolly old Hundred Years War against the French to provide plots for the historical romances of Arthur Conan Doyle.
But since, say, 1688, when the Dutch Prince William was invited to invade and rule England, the Brits have avoided a battle for political dominance that escalated into civil war. That is a remarkable record, considering the cultural and economic changes in the years since 1688.
And the British monarchs slowly surrendered their monarchical power to “the people.” Partly, I’d say, that worked because, starting with the death of Oliver Cromwell, the winner of the Civil War, the de-facto ruling class has always managed to change heads of state without violence. There was always a ruling class with enough power to make sure that something sensible was done.
For instance, in 1832, it was the Duke of Wellington that persuaded the House of Lords to pass the first Reform Bill that expanded the franchise downwards. In the last quarter of the 19th century the widowed Queen Victoria mourned her dead German prince of a husband, and allowed the democratization of Britain to proceed. And after World War I the Liberal Party gently dissolved and let itself be replaced by the Labour Party. And after World War II, the Conservatives in Britain allowed the Labour government to nationalize half the country without violent resistance. During the Thatcher years my lefty cousins displayed “Thatcher the Snatcher” yard signs, but the lefties did not resort to violence. Even when Thatcher stood up against The Miners.
And of course, during her 70 year reign, Queen Elizabeth stayed above the political fray and was content to symbolize Britishness without resorting to the political need for an enemy. They say, of course, that the only Prime Minister that the Queen did not get on with was Margaret Thatcher. But that’s understandable. As lefties liked to point out, Thatcher was merely a grocer’s daughter.
It all raises the question of how we, the Benighted of America, can move forward to a gentle regime change, like the Brits have done, without running up a butcher’s bill.
Back in 1953, Queen Elizabeth was Anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. But nobody imagined that God had anointed her to rule the Brits with the overweening confidence of the One Anointed by God.
But our ruling class, dubbed The Anointed by Thomas Sowell in The Vision of the Anointed, really does believe that God, or Gaia, or the Arc of History, has Anointed it to rule this fruited plain. And our rulers are nowhere close to realizing that history is moving on, and the Age of Politics is in its autumn, and the usefulness of an educated elite has been much over-hyped, and that, over the last century, our ruling class has very often Made Things Worse.
And that is America’s Big Problem. I suppose you could say it’s the problem all over the world.
It is my hope that ordinary Commoners, all over the world, will slowly displace the overweening educated class without loss of life, fortune, or sacred honor. I believe that this is possible because the ordinary middle class is not that interested in power, and does not long to preside over a Glorious Age of middle-class hegemony, but only live an ordinary life at an ordinary job at an ordinary house in the suburbs. (This is to say nothing about pickup trucks, about which our noble rulers Have No Idea).
But there is always the problem. If our educated class is separated from its political power, what will the educated scion do then, poor thing?