John Maclean on the Monarchy
[One hundred years ago, Britain saw not only 'a strike wave spread throughout Britain that saw troops on the streets and a strike committee virtually running a major city' - a wonderful upturn in the class struggle known as the Great Unrest - but also the coronation of George V. In a short article on 'Democracy and the Coming Coronation', the great revolutionary socialist John Maclean penned his thoughts on the role of the monarchy in a modern class society, warned workers not to be distracted from their main aims and objectives by the whole charade and called for a new democratic People's Charter...]
'Our protest against the mockery of the coming monarchical mummery should take the form of a demand for more political freedom for the masses instead of a direct demand for the establishment of a republic...
We Social Democrats, Republicans though we may be, have been essentially responsible for teaching the people that the real political enemy our class is not the king; but the propertied class that, out of the plunder taken from us, is prepared to spend the sum needed to maintain the Royal Family.
The capitalists cheerfully pay out this sum, as the maintenance of Royalty at this critical juncture in the country’s history seems to them necessary as an agency that helps to cover over with superstitious ornament the class war between the capitalists and the workers, and which thus helps to stave off those demands for political equality that would naturally ensue upon the establishment of a republic.
The capitalists cannot afford, then, to dethrone the monarch in this country, especially on account of their supreme control of the political machinery of the land and on account of their fear of the people’s desire for participation in the gentle art of law making and administration. And, on account of their propaganda, the people are conscious that the social inequalities in the land are in no way due to the crowned head...
But the workers are ripe, and over ripe, for the passing into law of a new political People’s Charter...And in our efforts we need place no reliance on the Labour Party... The consciousness now prevalent amongst the masses that their real wages are considerably below those obtained when the Labour organisation came into existence, the further consciousness that the Labour Party has failed to defend the workers, when on strike against reduced wages or oppression, and the fact that the Labour Party has made no real outstanding fight for the workers at all since it began its Parliamentary career, warns us to place no reliance for support on these slippery eels of statesmen whose chief end in life seems to be the destruction of Socialism.
Let us directly appeal to the people, and with our clamour, widespread and prolonged, let us drown the chorus of false praise that will herald the approach of the nearing comic opera. Thus will we make history and perhaps march a stage nearer our goal.