We the People
‘First the people; then the spirits of land and grain; the sovereign counts for the least’.
Thus spoke Mengzi, Chinese sage and disciple of Confucius. It sounds radical, especially for 350 BC or thereabouts, but in actual fact it wasn’t radical at all. The Greeks had already introduced the idea of democracy. Rome was oscillating between emperors and republics.
Do you know who else espoused this? The Scots, and they wrote it down in the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. No Norman feudal nonsense for them. If the monarch didn’t square up, they’d replace them.
Let’s be fair. In 1649, when Western Europe was gradually waking up to the idea of democracy, the English were the first in Europe to get rid of their monarchy and run a republic. It only lasted until 1660 and that period is referred to in Latin as the ‘Interregnum’; a bit like that embarrassing uncle that always gets drunk at weddings and no one talks about. But it happened and it was 100 years before the French, only the French did their Revolution with far more style and panache. Cake, anyone?
Here’s the point. Every nation, every civilisation worth its salt, even the grimmest of empires, all understood something. The sovereign is a figurehead. The people are everything.
Which makes the current situation in Britain all the less understandable. Who thought, at this, the lowest point in our history, that it would be a good idea for a mediaeval feudal monarch to step out in a golden carriage, accompanied by thousands of soldiers and crowned with a solid gold crown, by a priest dressed in gold cloth?
Union Jack bunting at foodbanks. Coronation plates with ‘Let them eat cake!’ on it. And the never ending, pant wetting, oleaginous spewing of articles on all things coronation from the Beeb.
Are they all deaf? Does the king have no advisers? Do none of the Civil service drink in pubs, travel on trains or speak to anyone anymore? Do they not know anyone poor? There’s plenty of them and plenty being added.
What of the government and our politicians? Can they not see the disaster unfolding? Our country is being ruined; by Brexit, by avaricious energy companies who are bringing bankruptcy and poverty to every door. And yet. You go to hail this king. To swear fealty. Fealty to what? To a continuance of this nonsense.
And as to the people themselves. Who can they look to right now? Who is there to lead them or speak for them? No one. The state, the church and the government have all turned their backs on them. Because they have nothing. And yet, the people are everything. Without them there is no state. No wealth. Nothing.
We are living in a Kafkaesque nightmare. Right now, two worlds are rubbing shoulders; the world of the elite, riding in fairy tale carriages and wearing crowns; and the world that the rest of us belong to, which is slowly but surely collapsing under the economics that allow the country to be robbed blind by the former.
It can’t last. For now, we have a coronation. But the cry of the poor will be heard. And if our leaders won’t speak for them, then the people will speak for themselves. For they alone are sovereign.