Al-Ahram Weekly Online   5 - 11 May 2011
Issue No. 1046
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Lubna Abdel-Aziz

Much ado about everything

That was the week that was! Never was so much jubilance spread around the world in so little time. It all started with a fairy tale, when a smiling commoner walked down the Abbey aisle, amidst every pomp and circumstance, to be united with her Prince Charming, to the delight of all Brits, all royalists and over 2 billion viewers worldwide. No sooner had the young lovers tripped away for some privacy, when the Vatican started earnest preparations for the beatification of their beloved Pope John Paul II. Before the May Day celebrations of the World's Workers were over, the US announced that its decade- long man-hunt has come to an end. The scalding death of 3000 innocent citizens in the wreckage of the flaming twin towers, on 9/11/ 2001, has been finally avenged. Arch-enemy Osama Ben Laden has been found, and killed 5/ 1/2011. All but forgotten were the world's mundane woes, massacres, wars, oppression, unemployment, failing economies, budget deficiencies, insurmountable debts, rising gasoline prices, etc.etc. etc. It was time for a respite, a smile, a cheer.

The Brits led the way. They set the mood of festive merriment by putting on an unparalleled show of royal splendour, as no one else can. So jealously guarded and preserved, their royal props come out on special occasions, to awe and amaze a gaping world. Why does the rest of the republican world marvel at such fanfare and flourish, crave such pomp and pomposity?

More than any other people, Americans go nuts over the royals they discarded in 1776. Absence must certainly make the heart grow fonder. Every kind of media sent their big guns to the British capital, to cover every second, every inch of every detail of every gold braid and brass button, of every royal, from queen to page. A measure of reverence lingers in the New World, for the founding fathers. Across the pond, the French, who guillotined their royals two centuries ago, and led the world down the path of republicanism, show some envy as they ogle their neighbours' grandiose spectacle. They went gaga over la princesse Di, and Kate is stepping right into her shoes. The Greeks and Spaniards, who have their own royals, seem more interested in the gloss and glow of their more glamorous cousins. Even the Russians shed a tear as they lamented their lost Czars, while watching flawless pageantry, steeped in centuries of tradition. Some dared to twitter if there was any hope to retrieve their monarchy.

What is it about monarchy that we miss so much? There is something positively tender about this collective nostalgia for another lost Eden.

From our early days, monarchy was the prevalent form of government, and for the most part, a highly successful one. The fault lay with the monarchs, not the monarchies. When kings became more interested in expanding their power, and less interested in the welfare of their people, monarchies began to crumble. Oppressed and exploited, the people founded a new form of government, slightly reminiscent of the principles of ancient Greece and Rome. Based on liberty, equality and justice, a new form of democracy was born. Supposedly, Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. It often ends up as a government for the rich and the mighty. Hypnotized by the promised liberties, democracies grew exponentially following WWI. Private governments became public governments, but have they succeeded in protecting their citizens, and nurturing their rights for equality and justice?

It is the opinion of many that democracy now suffers the same shortcomings that fell monarchs. With changing times, governments evolve, creating more befitting forms of rule. Monarchies of the new times are no longer defined in terms of unlimited political power. A Constitutional monarchy is citizen- friendly and has blurred the lines between principles of democracy and the defining roots of monarchy. The Crown can now be the protector of liberties and freedom.

Early in the decade, Hans --Hermann Hoppe wrote his outstanding book," DEMOCRACY: The God That Failed"(2001), with an air-tight theoretical reasoning, describing democracy as the cause of the world's modern ills. His reasons are the following: Taxation, Legislation, War and Redistribution. The world of democracy is only fostering an illusion of self- rule. Despite, incredible advances in knowledge and technology, despite rising incomes and comforts, saving rates are decreasing and divorce, abortion, crime, debt, disease, poverty and wars are increasing. Was the change from monarchy to democracy a step backward?

Under unjust rulers, both forms of government are unjust. Public government pillages its citizens, as seen in Communism. Hoppe believes that Democracy is prone to cancerous growth, causing all our social ills, driving us back to the jungle. Perhaps once there, we can start over, and maybe get it right, next time.

With a vigorous brush, History paints a sordid picture of most democracies. Consider the democracies of . Europe, (Russia), Asia.(Burma), Africa, (Zimbabwe), Latin America,(Cuba). Is not Egypt a blatant example of how easily a simple republic can end up being a brutal dictatorship. A just monarchy may be the lesser evil than a mass democracy, often spelled demo- crazy.

To those anti-royalists who complain about the financial burden of the royals , let me remind them that giving willingly to preserve the royal colours of tradition is better than being robbed blindly while under a drowsy spell of imaginary liberties.

The king reigns, and the people govern themselves.
Louis Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877)

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