Aristocracy: The Remains of the Feudal Day

Why ‘Justice’ for this thread and not ‘Culture and Community’ or ‘History’? Because we are a Republic and an aristocracy should not have any recognised place in our political systems. A discussion of remaining aristocracy privileged not by merit but by birth alone should really be in a History forum but unfortunately is still a contemporary phenomenon, whether it is a Viscount inheriting from an Earl or Paris Hilton inheriting Dadddy’s tax lawyers.

The point of the thread is to ask why there are still people accorded privileges just because they were born in a lucky bed.

How is this relevant to today? Well we can all see the latest crisis at the very highest level with the island next door which has a constitutional monarchy, officially, but in fact has no agreed constitution beyond matters of trade and private property rights and is looking like it may not have a monarchy much longer either.

Touchy subject and not one on which I’d choose to vote. One of the rare occasions when I’d probably get a vote in the UK on any referendum on the matter but determined long ago that the monarchy in the UK is not merely a political construct but it is also very much a cultural issue and on that basis I am not well enough informed to be able to make a sensible vote one way or another.

My only duty as a Republican abroad and living in a constitutional monarchy is not to let my own country down by being disrespectful of another culture’s cultural constructs, deeply interwoven in Englishness and the perception of it. If the monarchy in England is to go or survive, I don’t feel I could decently vote on that subject. I don’t think any views I might hold would be overly welcome in my local pub and the subject has never arisen there as far as I know. But common courtesy and the need to exhibit civilised behaviour around things such as standing for another country’s anthem, not disrespecting the Thai royal family in Thailand means not disrespecting cultural traditions if I live in England either.

Relevance to today: Besides the issues in England we have Scotland. A huge percentage of the land of Scotland is in the hands of private landowners who have profited from the invasive barbarity of the Highland Clearances when many Scots were thrown off land they had known time out of mind by foreign aristocrats who had decided that sheep were more profitable than croft-farms.

There are still four Dukes today I believe who own much of the private land in Scotland, and much of it the most beautiful land. Scotland will need to deal with this issue as part of the independence debate lest they end up independent only via a sliver of lowlands.

The King of Spain is now King Emeritus of Spain and hiding out in Abu Dhabi, fearful of what is about to emerge from tax investigations and corruption investigations around money flowing in and out of the roual grave and favour accounts from dubious characters.

Royalty appears to be on the run. The last absolute dictator with the aspect of a crowned king is sitting in the visibly dwindling pond in Rome that is known as the Vatican and was arguably the world’s first feudal corporation merged with majesty in the form of a crowned head.

Aristocracy. By-word for eventual decrepitude and degeneracy or tourist attraction that should be repainted and promoted for tourism? Legal place to play out theatre around large non-liquid assets such as country houses and estates?

I think their day is visibly done.
Republic:- a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.

Such has never had its day and I would think, never will. (Rome might have got close for a few years.)

You allude to the turning of a wheel rather than anything fading away.

(As the Good Book says:- "My kingdom is not of this world")

Captain Con

Rome and Athens. With the influence they had on European culture and what we know of the political and philosophical journeying of those peoples you'd think we'd have given up Tyrants by now.

I'm not sure I can be anything other than Republican (of the French school) about this and if I believe in Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite as much as I think I do I cannot but oppose the notion of power and influence being inherited in a society which apparently lauds merit, at least on the surface.

Captain Con

Wonderful episodes in the development of the concept of Republic and Demos. In Athens the citizenry were being subjected to blandishments, offers of bribes and even threats from partisans either side of the ramp which led up to the polling booth, some urns into which one placed one's token piece of pottery.

So the early organisers thought about it and just widened the ramp to such an extent that bribes or threats could not be heard without the guards hearing it and arresting the offender :)

Practical democracy and governance in action. 'Good man yerself, Wiliamos'.
There is a superb* 15 volume history of Rome - from its beginnings to its eventually fall - written by a Japanese lady, Nanami Shiono. Ms Shiono offers many fresh perspectives on ancient Rome, saying that often our judgement can suffer a degree of distortion because the actions of its people are often viewed through the prism of "our Christian sensitivities".

One fact gleaned from Roman history:- a new citizen of Rome, just twenty years after being of a conquered foe, was elected as one of the two yearly Consuls, the highest position within the Roman republican system.

(Truly astonishing if thought is given to it. Truly astonishing)

* I have only read the first three, but make an assumption.

Captain Con

That is an interesting reference, thanks TCA. I've read Decline and Fall and have to more stunning and clinically honest piece of historical assessment, besides being a literary masterpiece, would be hard to imagine.

Our own legal system before we were forced to adopt the Norman systems actually had social mobility and merit built into it far more than the later Norman system of feudal ownership of people as goods and chattels and never any possibility of them being anything else.

At Pompeii there is a story uncovered of a man who was a slave and became a freed man, a wealthy business owner and significant figure in politics in the area.
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