How the Diamond Jubilee Weekend Made Us All Morons

The conformists, who lead an untroubled, comfortable life, unburdened by questions, will say you’re a cynic if you refuse to buy into these Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The establishment pitch, that these events represent us, that’s you and me, projecting our values to the world, will be too seductive for most, but it’s a lie. Your values are your own and they cannot, are not, hotwired into a national belief system. The reason for this is simple. The nation, as a unifying entity, is a fantasy. Our country exists geographically and legally but beyond that, what Britain is and represents, is up to you. It’s certainly not up to the BBC and the government should never, under any circumstances, define it on our behalf.

Though the sheep amongst you will caricature me as a refusenik, I can tell you that I find the notion of people coming together highly attractive. Parties, mass celebrations, civic pride; how could one be against it? My caveat is that I want that celebration to be borne of something I believe in: something that makes me proud of my homeland. The truth is that for me, and I suspect many others, living in Britain can sometimes be a dehumanising experience. Otherwise intelligent people, reasonable and fair-minded for the most part, are slaves to a herd mentality on the critical question of the national character. Why do they abandon principles like democracy and a meritocracy when it comes to a few people at the top? Why renounce basic human principles like self-determination and equality? Because they’ve been conditioned to think that way and worse, see it as integral to what Britain’s all about.

It starts in childhood with bad tutoring from culturally illiterate parents. It has to be transmitted this way because no rational individual, living in a democracy and presented with the case cold at 18, would ever opt for it. Later, in adulthood, the twin-engines of snobbery and inverted snobbery, so successful in British society, do their evil work and reinforce the status quo.

Her Majesty’s subjects enjoy having a superior above them, above the fray of their elected representatives. They project onto her all their grand designs: an idea that Britain is a special country with a unique and eloquent figurehead at its summit. The Queen is England (and her satellites) because she personifies grace, refinement, dignity, taste, history and nobility. Every Briton, fundamentally, imagines this to be a point of differentiation between them and lesser nations, idiotic enough to elect one of their peers as head of state. The Queen is peerless and so too, by association, is the nation she leads.

This brings us to the flip side; inverted snobbery. Monarchists can’t bear the thought that someone like them, someone ordinary, may become the sovereign. Politicians are frequently held up as examples of just the kind of perfidious, flawed archetype that would diminish us all; completely different to the Kings and Queens that oppressed and murdered the population until all political power was wrestled from them.

Unpopular prime ministers become thought terminating clichés, reasons not to elect a president. Oddly, the popular ones, like Churchill, don’t come up. “We don’t want a President Thatcher” or “a President Blair”, say the idiots, employing the royal we. A President may have different powers from a Prime Minister of course and an office is not illegitimate because you don’t care for the people who occupy it; the same fools don’t advocate abolishing the post of PM; but that hasn’t stopped the argument taking its place with tourism, as the two most commonly vomited up non-reasons for retaining a hereditary and wholly unrepresentative head of state.

That the Queen represents no one but herself and the institution she spearheads isn’t a problem for monarchists but God knows it should be. You may hate David Cameron, I know I do, and despise many of his post-war predecessors, but they at least represented some sectional interest in British society. The Queen is unique in that her life and experiences are unmatched by a single living Briton. Her Maj has as much in common with the man or woman in the street as an ostrich.

Incredibly, her supporters cite this as a reason to retain her. She’s a symbol, they say. But symbols have no life of their own. They don’t hold prejudices, bleed, vomit, urinate, menstruate or copulate. The Queen’s sole relation to you and I is that she has a certain view of life. She, like us, is fond of some people, loathsome of others; she finds some things funny, other things less so. The point is that if we were granted an extended audience with her, many of us would find that her outlook vastly diverged from our own. What are the Queen’s views on race relations, homosexuality, religious tolerance, freedom of expression, the media and the gap between rich and poor? We simply don’t know. Indeed, for the Queen and her successors to endure, it’s essential we never find out. Yet this is the family that represents the country we live in. They allegedly symbolise us. That we have no say in the matter is an affront to the very values the Queen and her immediate relatives are said to internalise. This monstrous irony never seems to bother anyone. Welcome to Britain.

Jubilation!

What an extraordinary sight it was to see so many people funnelling down to the banks of the Thames to watch the River Pageant, or filling The Mall to give three cheers to a stranger who knew nothing of them or their lives. Why extraordinary? Because few that went would have given due consideration to what this festival of deference represented. “It’s history,” they bleated, “a once in a lifetime experience”, “a never to be seen again spectacle”. Oh yeah? I’d simply suggest that the sight of 1,000,000 English Defence League members, converging on London with candles, multi-coloured streamers and support from a 300 piece marching orchestra, would be a unique and amazing spectacle, but if you turned up to wave them on, you’d be dignifying what they stood for.

It’s not a coincidence that the parts of the media that act as monarchical cheerleader – The Daily Mail, The Express, the BBC’s One Show, are targeted at the sections of the populous thought to have the least imagination. This will sometimes be unfair of course, but it’s a tacit acknowledgement from those responsible for mediating the messages we consume, that support for monarchy relies on an abdication of thought. During moments of so-called national unity – the Jubilee, the forthcoming corporate dump known as The Olympic Games – the national I.Q is presumed to drop at least 30 points, as largely meaningless abstractions such as Britishness and National Pride get a foothold in the collective imagination, kicking out the good sense that prevails at other times.

The BBC, bound by its charter to provide balanced and unbiased coverage of national events, was at its supine and deferential worst during the Jubilee weekend. Hundreds of hours of gushing, thought terminating Royal propaganda was punctuated by mere seconds of dissenting voices from protest groups like Republic, who were shown glumly waving placards as a footnote to the evening’s celebratory news bulletins.

Auntie reasoned that the country was adulated and it was simply capturing the national mood, but in this it was being unduly modest. The BBC had spent weeks building momentum for the events with all the zeal of a Buckingham Palace press officer. It’s doing an equally sterling job with the Olympics. If you want to find out how people truly feel, you’re once again reliant on social media. What, you may ask, could be more depressing than that?

Still, the coverage of Sunday’s Jubilee Concert did, despite all the senseless commentary, provide revealing insights into the sickness that burdens the national mind during times like these. Even the least attentive viewer couldn’t have failed to notice how conservative the bill was, nor its vintage. It was a punishingly mainstream, stultifyingly safe spectacle, showing Britain at its most bland and uninspired. In an irony free evening, it was sobering to watch individuals like Suggs, Paul McCartney and Elton John, working class boys who gained huge success built on hard work and talent, with no social advantage, flaunt their breeding and gladly bow down to an unelected figurehead whose sole achievement has been to keep her mouth shut for 60 years.

Nor could you feel anything other than bilious at the sight of fawning members of the comedy establishment, failing to inject irreverence, that one bona fide British trait, into proceedings. Poor Jimmy Carr tried once or twice but his seditious leanings bombed. Those that had erected bunting, organised street parties, turned up to the events waving £2 flags and brandishing Union Jack T-Shirts (hardly any of which were worn in Scotland), were in no mood to hear some common upstart mock Her Majesty’s social advantages and alien character. Many of the same people, in any other context, would have enjoyed Carr’s disrespectful shtick, but monarchy relies on being a special case, one exempt from all the reasonable tests we apply to every other part of national life. What kind of person accepts that case without a second thought? The Sex Pistols knew the answer: a moron. It’s high time we wised up.

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