One of the reasons why I like republicanism is because I like being part of a polarized debate. You can call the issue esoteric or irrelevant, but there’s no denying that a great many people do consider this monarchy-versus-republic business to be serious stuff; a quick glimpse at some of my recent “comments” should make that clear.
However, outside of Australia—which has already held a referendum on separation from the British Crown—I would argue that the monarchy debate in the Commonwealth is also rather undeveloped at present. It’s simply not an issue that one hears discussed much in the mainstream media or partisan discourse, and when it is, it’s frequently only in the most superficial way. Again, one could argue this is because the issue itself is fringe and irrelevant, but I believe a more genuine explanation comes from the fact that the need for a republic has simply not yet had reason to register on the national priority scale.
It will eventually, however. Indeed, the clock is ticking faster every day and it’s now just a matter of time before some spark triggers an explosion of interest in the future of the Crown, be it the Queen’s death, a re-opening of the constitution, an unprecedented political move by an agent of the monarchy, or some high-profile scandal or controversy within the House of Windsor. Until that time comes, it’s worthwhile to anticipate this inevitability through discussions that remain, admittedly, largely academic at the present time.
One enjoyable by-product of this status quo is the large role that the internet has come to play in helping raise the profile of the intellectual side of monarchy debate. As I’ve mentioned before, my friend Lewis Holden, a New Zealander who heads his country’s official republican movement has created a wonderful blog called the Holden Republicin which he regularly addresses all manner of republican and monarchy related issues—both national and international in scope—from a Kiwi perspective.
Then there’s The Monarchist, an equally engaging pro-monarchy blog written by a handful of writers in Canada, Britain, New Zealand, and Australia. Though I hardly ever agree with its postings, it is a well-written and insightful blog which offers a good window into the intellectual mindset of “the other side.” Unlike formal, capital-M monarchist organizations in the Commonwealth, which tend to be mushy-mouthed political spin groups of the worst sort, The Monarchist is unapologetically brash, brazen, and aggressive in its defense of the Crown. Its writers speak unabashedly from what I believe is the true root of most passionate monarchist sentiment—a love for Britain, Empire, and all the accompanying trinkets and baubles.
I joined the fray with this blog last month, hoping to offer a Canadian perspective into the milieu, and contribute something to the greater Commonwealth discourse. And now I see there’s another new blog in town, A Commonwealth Monarchist, written by a British guy who, unlike The Monarchist, seems to hate republicans more than he loves the Queen.
Though his arguments are quite wrong (he in particular seems to honestly believe that a monarchical system of government prevents tyranny, when there are countless examples to the contrary) he is a decent writer and seems as keen as I to become part of this great, obscure debate. And for that, I give him kudos.
Any successful political movement requires multiple wings, including partisan allies in the legislature, a strong interest / lobby group, and an effective media presence. But such movements also require a strong intellectual foundation, composed of men and women who spend time studying their cause in great detail, and formulating a clear ideological case for why their position is the right one.
Republicans and monarchists are no different in this regard, and I’m continually impressed to see the way the net has already become the dominant forum for what will doubtlessly be one of the most interesting political battles of the 21st Century Commonwealth.