Researcher of Political Science & Classical Islam. Initiated by the Khwajagan i-Naqshband.
Monarchy is the one system of government where power is exercised for the good of all -Aristotle, 322-384 BC
The current Canadian government has a thing for monarchy. In fact the Conservatives seem to like it better than democracy.
First it seemed quirky and quaint when they ordered portraits of Queen Elizabeth II to be put up in Canada’s overseas missions and promoted British royal visits. Then it got a little embarrassing when they reinstated “Royal” to the Canadian Air Force and the Navy’s official name.
But since the “Arab Spring” democracy struggles that began in 2011 Stephen Harper’s government has gotten down right scary, apparently supporting the divine right of kings over rule by the people.
Since 2011 the Tories have publicly backed ruling royal families from Morocco to Saudi Arabia. They’ve signed (or are negotiating) ‘free’ trade agreements and foreign investment protection agreements with Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Morocco — all ruled by kings.
During a trip to the Middle East last week Foreign Minister John Baird met royal officials in Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. In praising the leadership of these countries, the minister failed to mention human rights or the suppression of democratic struggles in these monarchies.
Baird’s comments about Bahrain, a small island nation sandwiched between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, were particularly odious. He blamed opposition to the 218-year monarchy on Iran and criticized the pro-democracy protesters.
“We should be very clear that Iran’s interference in some of its neighbors’ internal political affairs is something that’s distinctly unhelpful, and it’s never motivated by good,” Baird told reporters inquiring about Bahrain.
“The regime in Iran should refrain from interfering in other countries’ affairs,” he added at a press conference in the capital of Manama.
The kingdom’s press gleefully reported Baird’s comments but there’s little evidence that Iran is responsible for the political upheaval that’s gripped the country for the past two years. Even the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, set up by King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifah to investigate the country’s political conflict, found no evidence of such a link.
Baird also attacked Bahrain’s pro-democracy movement, mocking the idea that the activists were “peace-loving protesters.” “There is violence, where police officers have been targeted,” Canada’s foreign minister declared. “There’s been Molotov cocktails. Even potential use of or planned actions of improvised explosives. There have been other connections to nefarious tactics, including terrorists trying to blow up the causeway. A plot was foiled there.”
This is a highly partisan distortion of the last two years of political struggle that has left at least 87 pro-democracy activists dead. At the start of the Arab Spring major protests broke out against the monarchy in Bahrain. Protesters initially focused on greater political freedom and equality for the majority Shia Muslim population, but after security forces killed four and injured dozens on February 17, 2011, calls for the king to go grew more common.
Over the next month, protests against the monarchy gained in strength with 200,000, a quarter of the country’s adult population, marching on February 22, 2011. The regime looked to foreign security forces for protection. They brought in Sunni Muslims from Pakistan and after a month of growing protests 1,500 troops from the monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE were sent to shore up the Al Khalifa regime. A day after these well-armed foreign soldiers arrived, the Bahraini king declared martial law and a three-month state of emergency. That same day, March 15, Bahraini security forces killed two more demonstrators and within days protesters camped out in central Manama’s Pearl Roundabout were violently dispersed, leaving five dead and hundreds wounded. The regime also began late night raids in Shia neighborhoods. They’ve arrested thousands, including bloggers, internationally recognized human rights activists and doctors accused of caring for injured protesters.
In the early days of the regime’s crackdown Foreign Affairs released two (mildly) critical statements. But with the international media paying less attention, Ottawa has not made any further comment about the repression even though the regime continues to brutally repress protesters.
While Baird claims covert Iranian meddling, the Conservatives avoided directly criticizing Saudi Arabia’s high-profile military intervention to prop up the monarchy. Rather than challenge Saudi policy, the Tories have deepened military, business and diplomatic ties with the House of Saud. At least seven Conservative ministers have visited the country, including four in the past year. As a result of one of the visits, the RCMP will train Saudi Arabia’s police in “investigative techniques.” Most ominously, in 2011 the Conservatives approved arms export licenses worth a whopping $4 billion to Saudi Arabia.
A General Dynamics factory in London, Ontario, has produced more than 1,000 Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) for the Saudi military, who used these vehicles when they rolled into Bahrain. “The LAV-3 and other similar vehicles that Canada has supplied to the Saudi Arabian National Guard,” noted Project Ploughshare’s Ken Epps, “are exactly the kind of equipment that would be used to put down demonstrations [in Bahrain] and used against civilian populations.”
Already equipped with hundreds of Canadian-built LAVs, the Saudis contracted General Dynamics Land Systems for another 724 LAVs in 2009. (These sales are facilitated by the Canadian Commercial Corporation and Canadian colonel Mark E.K. Campbell oversees General Dynamics Land Systems LAV support program in Saudi Arabia.)
Since the vehicles were scheduled to be delivered weeks after the invasion of Bahrain, the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute called for a suspension of further arms shipments to the Saudis. The Conservatives ignored the call and instead, as mentioned above, they approved $4 billion worth of arms exports in 2011.
Saudi Arabia is ruled by a monarchy that’s been in power for more than seven decades. The Saudi royal family is a savagely conservative force in the region, as well as being extremely misogynistic and repressive domestically. Religious law prevails.
One is left to speculate how deep a commitment the Conservatives have to democracy, even here in Canada.
“The Ikhwan al-Safa had no interest in the theory of State or in the forms of government. Nor could they be influenced, in this respect, by Greek writers….(They) believed that the State rests on two foundations: religion and kingship. A king is indispensable, though he may be a tyrant, if the State is to lead a secure and prosperous life.”-Sayyid Ahmed Amiruddin, March 11th, 2013
“In Islam, there is no paper money. The measure of value in Islam is gold and silver. Everything apart from this is toys…you say, we have money and Europe will give us weapons, America will give us cannons. Do not trust them. Be firm, straight…In Europe, they did not like Muslims to have kings, so they deceived our foolish ones to abolish kingship. Misery befell the countries which abolished their monarchies. Libya, Egypt, Hijaz, Turkey, Balkans, Caucasus, Iran, they are all in this situation. Kings are the drawn swords of God, the Shadow of God on Earth. You removed your kings, and so devils are on your head. Oh Shah Mardan, send us a king. Those who oppose kingship, let it not be known where they are buried. May Allah finish their idols…”-Mawlana Shaykh Nazim, April 11th, 2013
The Tarquins, meanwhile, had taken refuge at the court of Lars Porsena, the King of Clusium. By every means in their power they tried to win his support, now begging him not to allow fellow Etruscans, men of the same blood as himself, to continue living in penniless exile, now warning him of the dangerous consequences of letting republicanism go unavenged. The expulsion of kings they urged, once it had begun, might well become common practice; liberty was an attractive idea, and unless reigning monarchs defended their thrones as vigorously as states now seemed to be trying to destroy them, all order and subordination would collapse; nothing would be left in any country but flat equality; greatness and eminence would be gone for ever. Monarchy, the noblest thing in heaven or on earth, was nearing its end.– Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation, Book II.
A priest who is not a monarchist is not worthy to stand at the altar table. The priest who is a republican is always a man of poor faith. God himself anoints the monarch to be head of the kingdom, while the president is elected by the pride of the people. The king stays in power by implementing God’s commandments, while the president does so by pleasing those who rule. The king brings his faithful subjects to God, while the president takes them away from God.-Neomartyr Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev, tortured and killed by Bolsheviks on 7th February 1918.
The monarchical principle is laughed at by vulgar and foolish people in all the suburbs of Europe. It is hated in all the gutters of the world. The reason is simple. It enshrines with a fitting dignity and elaboration the principle of authority as something independent of this or that politician. It places it above attack. It symbolises and consecrates an attitude of mind essential to the happiness of peoples.-D’Alvarez, Storm Over Europe, by Douglas Jerrold (1930), Chapter XII.
Parliamentary monarchy fulfils a role which an elected president never can. It formally limits the politicians’ thirst for power because with it the supreme office of the state is occupied once and for all.-Max Weber, German economist.
Anyone who has walked through the deserted Palaces of Versailles or Vienna realise how much a part of the life of a nation is lost when a monarchy is abolished. If Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle were transformed into museums, if one politician competed against another for the position of President of the Republic, Britain would be a sadder and less interesting place. Our politicians are not men such as could challenge more than a thousand years of history! -William Rees-Mogg, former Editor of The Times.
They tell us that all Kings are bad; that God never made a King; and that all Kings are very expensive. But, that all Kings are bad cannot be true: because God himself is one of them; he calls himself King of Kings; which not only shows us he is a King, but he has other Kings under him: he is never called King of Republics. The Scripture calls Kings, the Lord’s Anointed; but who ever heard of an anointed Republic?-Association Papers, London, 1793.
The best reason why Monarchy is a strong government is that it is an intelligible government. The mass of mankind understand it, and they hardly anywhere in the world understand any other.Walter Bagehot, The English Constitution, 1867.
Monarchy can easily be debunked, but watch the faces, mark well the debunkers. These are the men whose taproot in Eden has been cut: whom no rumour of the polyphony, the dance, can reach – men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch. Yet even if they desire mere equality they cannot reach it. Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes or film stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.-C S Lewis.
Monarchy is first proved to be the true and rightful form of government. Men’s objects are best attained during universal peace: this is possible only under a monarch. And as he is the image of the divine unity, so man is through him made one, and brought most near to God. There must, in every system of forces, be a ‘primum mobile’; to be perfect, every organisation must have a centre, into which all is gathered, by which all is controlled. Justice is best secured by a supreme arbiter of disputes, himself untempted by ambition, since his dominion is already bounded only by ocean. Man is best and happiest when he is most free; to be free is to exist for one’s own sake. To this noblest end does the monarch and he alone guide us; other forms of government are perverted, and exist for the benefit of some class; he seeks the good of all alike, being to that very end appointed.-James Bryce’s summary of Dante’s De Monarchia.
I write by the light of two eternal truths: religion and monarchy, those twin essentials affirmed by contemporary events, and towards which every intelligent author should seek to direct our country
-Honore de Balzac, 1842.
Monarchy is the one system of government where power is exercised for the good of all. -Aristotle, 322-384 BC.
“Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either [aristocracy or monarchy]. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” – John Adams , One of the founding fathers and the 2nd president of the USA
I think it is a misconception to imagine that the monarchy exists in the interests of the monarch. It doesn’t. It exists in the interests of the people.-HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 1969.
Monarchy is often criticised for being a lottery, but so is an elected presidency. Britain last had to play the regal lottery in 1952, when it won handsomely. It has not had to gamble again since then. In the past 45 years Ireland has had to vote in seven presidents, few of them memorable, most of them just grazing. We have had just one head of state, who has performed her duties superbly. Throughout a time of immense social change, indeed revolution, the centre of the British system has remained calm and outside party politics. That is an incalculable asset which no republic can come close to matching.”-William Shawcross, the article ‘The Irish case for monarchy’, The Daily Telegraph, 30th October 1997.
Kings have advantages over democratic politicians. Although they must remain popular ….. they do not have to grub for votes. Unlike American senators, they are not obliged to start raising money for their re-election campaign days after the electorate has voted them in. Inheritance has its privileges, for both rulers and the ruled……For politicians in democracies, the business of government is all too often a great game, a chance to strut and posture their little moment on the stage, before retiring to directorships and lecture tours. No such retreat is possible for monarchs, so they are less likely to mess with the dodgy loan, or fool around with the intern.-Editorial, The Spectator, 13th February 1999.