In case you didn’t know, Prince William and Kate Middleton just recently got married. I suppose it would be in good character for me to wish them the best, which I suppose do, but I seem to have a deficiency of interest in the UK Royal Family. I guess it stems from my fervent belief that they represent an entirely immoral political class; a self-imposed elite that feeds off of tradition; an illegitimate family of rulers who circumvent the proper notion of government. To explain my thinking here, we must first ask ourselves, “What is the purpose of government?” and “Which form of government is best?” I will tackle these two questions separately.
The Purpose of Government
Because man is a rational animal – and in most instances desires to live – he has the right to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. In other words, by man’s very nature, he has the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Man’s rights are not gifts bestowed by God, or granted to us by a benevolent government, nor conferred to us by a gracious society. They are inherently ours and inalienable.
I lack the moral authority to do violence against another man’s rights. The forbiddance of the initiation of force is a cornerstone principle if man is to successfully live on earth. However, if I were mentally ill or overcome by emotion I may transgress – I may commit injustice. For those who would, a collection of individuals must defend themselves. As Thomas Jefferson said “It is to secure our rights that we resort to government at all.”
So then, the only moral purpose of government is to defend those rights. It’s sole task: to stop injustice so justice itself remains.
The Best Form of Government
Clearly, the best form of government is that which defends the rights of man – his life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The Founding Fathers of the United States understood this moral imperative when they crafted the Constitution and its limiting mechanics imposed on government. More fundamentally, they understood that government cannot carry legitimacy if it is not powered by popular sovereignty. Such was what Jefferson spoke of when he referred to the individuals that composed society to be the “safest depository of power.”
Unfortunately political theory is an endangered interest in the United States. Few question the authority of government because for the past century, altruistic politicians have laid moral claim on more and more quadrants of life. Government’s role has been expanded in the name of all sorts of daemons, be them charity, civil defense, or environmentalism. It is only with a solid philosophical and ethical foundation can a political structure stand.
The British Monarchy
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy. While most political power is delegated to parliament and the Prime Minister, the royal family still holds substantial power over the state. The constitution of the United Kingdom, and uncodified set of laws and procedures, acts as the only barrier between the Monarchy and the state. The Monarchy’s remaining powers include the power to maintain or dissolve Parliament, to appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister, and to grant or refuse Royal Assent to legislation passed in Parliament. These powers are very rarely used in the negative however. The decline of Royal Assent was last used in 1708 and the dissolution of parliament in 1835.
However, let’s review Monarchy in principle. In a monarchical system political power resides in a family chosen by God to govern. Such is the case in the United Kingdom. There is however something distasteful to make the claim that God has chosen a particular family to rule an entire country. First of all, how do we know this divine decree to be true? By what authority does God have to chose the governance of mortal men? Is the King or Queen in direct contact with God? Are they familiar with God’s will? Is there even a god?
Claims to the right to govern derived from a god are inconsistent with the proper role of government, and in fact perverts the very definition of a government. Government is a reluctant enterprise among free individuals to protect their rights from those who would trespass them. It’s very nature presupposes the consent of the governed. Unfortunately, the Monarchy benefits from no such consent. The Royal Family are not voted for. Their political power is inherited. It is derived not from votes, but from blood. This represents an entirely illegitimate form of leadership, and immoral system of government. The mere concept of royalty defies individual rights and the precept that men are born equal. Such was the very reason the American colonists rebelled from the British crown.
Incessant clamoring over the ‘majestic’ and ‘magical’ place the Royal Family enjoys feeds a perverted sense of governance. It does violence to the very nature of man. I would hope one day the English people will realize the transgression that has been imposed on them by tradition. It is high time for them to shrug off centuries old concepts and become acquainted with a political theory and system that respects the individual, holds him to be sovereign, and the state to be his rights’ defender.