Image pinched from B3ta Royal Wedding Image Challenge
Better late than never, below is distinguished UfSO Prof Rosa Zetkin’s essay on the royal wedding:
The Royal Wedding
The institution of monarchy has been an important tool for the ruling class in Britain. In the 17th century, as a result of class compromise between the old feudal class and the emerging capitalist class, the monarchy in Britain survived and has continued to serve the interests of the capitalist system. Engels wrote in The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845) that the ‘English working-man respects neither Lords nor Queen. The bourgeois, while in reality allowing them but little influence, yet offers to them personally a sham worship.’ Monarchy played some role for the British Empire to colonise vast areas of the planet, causing slavery, misery, death and destruction under the pretext of modernity and developing civilisation.
During the early decades of 20th century, the republican movement could defeat the ruling class in the south of Ireland. However, the Labour Party’s domination over the working class movement in Britain and its politics of class compromise has prevented such a movement developing further. Since the late 19th century, when capitalism developed to its final stage, imperialism, the monarchy has gone through some changes. The imperialist ruling class in Britain has not been able to prevent the decline of its empire. In fact, after the World War II, British imperialism lost its top position to US imperialism. However, the institution of monarchy has been an integral part of the ruling class in sustaining its rule over the people of this country, it’s colonies and it’s semi-colonies.
The current concrete condition shows that the global monopoly capitalist system is in deepening crisis. Also, since the global economic recession in 2007, the ruling class in Britain has not been able to find any effective solution. Waging wars against the oppressed peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya; more suppression at home and curbing civil liberties; further privatisation of what is left of the public services; introducing massive budget cuts to overcome the government’s self inflicted colossal debt, etc., have so far had the opposite effects. In general, these policies have deepened the crises, intensified people’s resistance in Britain and abroad, as well as causing more divisions within the ruling class.
The ruling class in Britain, their think tanks and the media have deceitfully insisted that the reasons for the recession were the deregulatory financial policies and the greed of a few individuals and bankers. They insist that the accumulation of “bad debt” has led to the “credit crunch”. In fact, they deliberately conceal the truth from the people, that these factors are only by-products, but inseparable aspects, of the irresolvable contradictions of the monopoly capitalist system and of ruling class corruption.
So far “quantitative easing” has to some extent disguised the depth and breadth of the recession. The coalition government amidst the economic crisis is aggressively implementing policies to overcome the crisis. But in fact, its main purpose is to safeguard the interest of monopoly capitalists. On this basis, the government is endlessly awarding top bankers, managers and its own corrupt politicians. At the same time, it has initiated a long period of austerity for the people, mainly wrenching the working class. Indeed the global economic crisis is persevering. All imperialist states including the British, are transferring the main portion of the crisis to the countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, causing further poverty, wars and misery for billions of people.
Despite devastating Iraq, the Iraqi people’s fierce resistance against the occupation of their country turned the US-British colonial project into a humiliating defeat. The military aggression and occupation of Afghanistan is also heading towards a shameful disaster for both ruling classes in Britain and the US. Today, there are many rebellions against the overt dictatorial regimes, installed and backed by the West to suppress the people of countries in North Africa and the Middle East. These rebellions have further exposed the true nature of Western democracy. Moreover, direct military intervention to control and suppress peoples’ rebellions in Libya and Bahrain has caused outrage around the world against the US, British and French ruling classes.
In Britain, when the parliamentary ‘expenses scandal’ was revealed and the tip of the iceberg of ruling class corruption surfaced, numerous corrupt politicians, including the leaders of the three major parties, were desperately striving to hide the following. However, the exposure of their corruption caused further breakdown of people’s confidence and intensification of contradictions within the ruling class, weakening their political structures, particularly the parliament.
According to a survey by the Committee on Standards in Public life in 2008, only 29% of people trust politicians to tell the truth, as against 93% who trust doctors and 84% who trust head teachers. A YouGov poll in the Daily Telegraph in February 2008 showed that only 4% of people believe that MP’s put the country before themselves, and 79% agree with the statement: “Most MPs use public office to make money improperly.” The damage extends far beyond one party, and a long term repair, if possible at all, could take decades.
The royal family today
The parasitic ruling system in Britain, particularly its bourgeois democracy and monopoly capitalist economy, is entangled in a deep crisis and is increasingly losing the confidence of the people. The inability of the two major parties to win outright in the last election is one example. Evidently, the ruling class politicians and economists are unable to provide any proper solution to reverse this detrimental trend.
For a growing number of the working class and the masses it is becoming increasingly evident that the existing political system is inherently flawed and its ruling politicians are corrupt and incompetent. Today, people are generally fed up with the ruling politicians, and the objective situation is compelling the working class, particularly the youth, to seek a way out of these unfair, insecure and unstable living conditions.
Regarding the royal family, a very small portion of decades of scandals have been exposed, such as Andrew’s involvement with the arms trade and accepting bribery, Margaret’s addiction and affairs, Charles continuing his affair with Camilla even after his marriage, Diana’s contradictions with the royal family, Diana’s death and subsequent cover ups, Harry going to a club with a swastika arm band, etc. The ruling class has always engineered the truth, portraying the royal family as the symbol of moral authority with decent human and family values. But even the minor exposures of facts have revealed debauched behaviour of the members of this corrupt and dysfunctional family, including the Queen (people do not forget her heartless and adverse behaviour, when Tony Blair compelled her to express sorrow at Diana’s death.)
The institution of monarchy is a historical baggage hindering democracy and progress. The royal family is sitting at the top of a pyramid of pomposity, nepotism, white-supremacist male-dominated chauvinism, ignorance and outdated religious idealism. This institution is based on the old feudalistic hereditary rules, yet it strengthens the monopoly capitalist relations and its ruling structures in Britain. As with the rest of the ruling class, the monarchy’s luxurious, parasitic life feeds on the blood and sweat of millions of people in oppressed countries and exploitation of the working class in Britain.
The royal wedding
The royal wedding is intended as a diversion from the pains of the unjust austerity measures introduced by the coalition government. Initial reactions to these measures even before their implementation included fury, demonstrations and occupations, particularly by university students. Despite police violence, mass arrests and severe punishments, thousands of anti-cuts activists have courageously continued their activities all over the country. In fact, the situation is simmering with rage.
In this explosive situation, the royal wedding is used by the ruling class to divide the people and unite the enemies of the people. The royal wedding promotes the notion of reactionary nationalism of the ruling class. Such a notion is propagated through the three major ruling class parties, governmental departments and organisations and councils, as well as trade unions, charities, and reactionary political parties and organisations such as UKIP, SNP, DUP, BNP, EDF to win some sections of the people over to the side of the ruling class.
Councils have been instructed by the government to organise street parties, getting neighbourhoods involved and vehemently blocking any opposition. The media has already started to promote this event one-sidedly, censoring any different views. The police and security forces are preparing to crush any serious opposition on the spot. Church of England is working on the spiritual side of this event, opening its exclusive channels for god’s blessing. Merchandise such as coins, cards, posters, cups and T-shirts are being produced to make more profit for a handful of bootlickers, who already have millions.
The whole plan is a sham. Not a single right minded person would accept that the royal wedding is an indication of social mobility, when the state is viciously cutting allowances of the disabled, targeting the incapacity benefit, freezing workers salaries, as well as tripling tuition fees. Nor can millions of people who have been tricked by the banks and credit card companies and amassed backbreaking debt sympathise with David Cameron’s assertion that happiness is not measured by wealth. Why does Cameron not say this to the Banks and Building Societies and ask them to stop repossessing people’s homes at the rate of nearly 100 a day?!
Royal wedding in this situation?!
In 1644, Oliver Cromwell told MPs, “I find the country bleeding, nay, almost dying.” What made him furious was not simply that people were suffering, but that the state was the problem. He raged, “The people are dissatisfied in every corner of the nation. All men laying at our doors the non-performance of these things that had been promised.”
The state has grossly failed and can’t deliver even the most basic services for the people competently. British schoolchildren compare dismally with similarly aged pupils in other countries and in previous generations. Illiteracy and innumeracy have become major issues for working class children and their parents. Many secondary schools, particularly in big cities, are riddled with drugs, and the underage pregnancy rate is the highest in Europe. Schools don’t simply underperform; they systematically mask that underperformance through manipulated examination grades. Universities have become huge businesses and the coalition government has already made swingeing cuts, introducing £9,000 tuition fees and cutting the educational maintenance allowance. These savage attacks will close the doors to higher and further education for a generation of young people.
The NHS has already become a colossal profit-driven system through Hospital Trusts, subcontracting different services to the private sector, giving priority and a different quality of service to private patients and promoting the policy of putting personal income before patients, even for GPs. In fact, the state’s policies have increasingly transformed the NHS into a gigantic profit-making machine for different private companies at the expense of proper health-care for the people as well as the workers of the NHS. Today, the healthcare system in Britain is more likely to kill its charges than in any other industrialised country in the world. Hospitals don’t simply fail to cure people; they often infect them with diseases unrelated to their original complaints.
There is no justice for the working class. Many, such as Birmingham 6 and Nottingham 4, on the basis of fabricated evidence are imprisoned for a long time. Despite factual evidence, in cases such as Steven Lawrence, racist murderers are often set free. Since 1999, nearly 400 people have died in police custody, the majority of whom were black youth. Cold blooded murder, such as Jean Charles Dmenezes and Ian Tomilson, is simply whitewashed. The justice system is so biased and corrupt that not even one police officer has been indicted with murder. The police force is called “The Law”, but in fact, it is above the law.
Britain has the highest prison population in Europe, and one of the highest crime rates. Prisons don’t turn inmates away from reoffending; they make it more likely. It is a fact that many prisoners become addicted to drugs while in prison, and thus wholly in the hands of the state. Rampant drug use and addiction in prisons actually shows that the state with its strict border controls has a powerful hand behind drugs smuggling and distribution within the whole country.
Millions of working class pensioners, who have contributed to society for the whole of their working lives, suffer greatly, simply because they cannot afford to have decent meals, proper medical care or even heat their homes, and thousands die every winter. ‘More than 25,000 people died in England and Wales last winter as a direct result of cold weather,’ (The Guardian 28 Oct 2006). According to the ONS, 36,700 people died from cold weather from December 2008 to March 2009. This was the highest number since the winter of 1999/2000 and a rise of 49% compared with 2007. In recent years food and particularly fuel prices have soared, causing further pressure on these working class pensioners, many of whom wish to die before they freeze to death.
Due to a constant increase of the aging population the state has deliberately allowed an influx of migrant workers, legally and illegally, into this country. The population of “illegal” immigrant workers is estimated at nearly one million. Many of these workers are not only paid well below the official minimum wage, but they are also deprived of basic human and legal rights and live in wretched conditions. Many of them live as a group in one room to be able to pay the high cost of rent and others sleep in the workplace because they cannot afford to pay any rent. The majority of these workers are young men who, despite hard work, usually live on one meal a day to be able to send a little money for the survival of their families back home. These workers are, however, an essential part of the monopoly capitalist economy in Britain, producing super-profits for the housing, food and service industries.
In the 1970s there were nearly half a million workers in the coal industry, and industrial workers constituted an important part of the work force in this country. The working class movement, especially the trade union movement (despite its leadership being part of the state machinery), was a considerable force. Since then, however, the ruling class has directed society into a whirlpool. The coal industry, which was privatised in 1994, has almost disappeared and other industries have largely closed down or been transferred to China, India and other countries to make super-profits. In fact, manufacturing, including military hardware, only accounts for 12% of the total workforce in Britain. Roads are choked and full of potholes, railways are crumbling, airports are unbearable, houses are flooded, cities are polluted, meadows and forests will be erased.
In general, during the last thirty years, all major ruling class parties in Britain have vigorously pursued policies for the implementation of the extensive privatisation and diminishing of the welfare system. Hard-working families who constitute the majority of the population and contribute the most to society are increasingly wrenched financially, facing numerous growing problems to sustain a basic level of life in the first industrial country in the world. The ruling class’s policies have created a quagmire of debt and corruption threatening every aspect of the social development of the working class and the masses in Britain. The royal wedding is a sham; it is planned by the state to divert the people from the serious problems that it really faces.