An anarcho-capitalist defence of the Royal family

Christina Annesley July 25, 2013 21

 

Republicanism is an issue that often tends to unite libertarians and socialists alike. Yet as an anarcho-capitalist I cannot bring myself to share this passionate hatred for an institution which is so quaint and benign in our country. I often think that if all British republicans shared the same feelings towards government as they did towards the monarchy this country might be a better place. In actual fact, the monarchy is not only harmless but is in many ways as much a victim of the state as the rest of us.

British_Royal_Family,_June_2012

Firstly there’s the obvious fact that a constitutional monarchy does not in practice have any power over us. Although the Queen has the power to block laws, if she ever exercised this right there would quite understandably be uproar in the country; this instance hasn’t occurred since 1708 and I would fairly confidently place a large amount of money on it never happening again. The power does serve as a useful safeguard against a tyrannical government – in fact, if Elizabeth would block a few more state laws (all of them perhaps?) the UK would probably be better off for it. The government, which actively controls, steals and aggresses against us, is where the libertarian’s anger should be directed towards, not a harmless old lady who has never drawn up a tax in her life.

Ah, but the argument goes, don’t the Royal family voluntarily live off taxpayer’s money – much like benefit claimants? Well, actually, no. The Royal family’s allowance is calculated as a percentage of the revenue of the Crown Estate, which is essentially their private land. In the financial year 2007-8, the Crown Estate produced £200 million. This is taken by the state and a small sum is given back, which this year amounted to £31 million. This is 18.05%, making taxes on the Royal family stand at 81.95%. Unless you believe that the Crown Estate’s (or any) income should automatically go to government – to which I may humbly suggest that you may not be an anarcho-capitalist at the very least – then this actually makes the Royal family taxpayers at around the same rate as the richest were before Margaret Thatcher.

Now, this argument naturally only stands if you believe that the Crown Estate should rightfully belong to the Windsor family. There are two fairly compelling reasons to suggest that this may not be the case; firstly that the Royal family may secretly be reptiles and thus ineligible to hold property, secondly that their property was acquired by the use of force and therefore cannot rightfully be theirs. I will dismiss the first until better evidence has been put forward, but the second one certainly has some merit. Indeed, the Crown Estates were taken by force and should this have happened in the present day or even recent memory the monarchy would be getting no defence from me; the Windsors would be no different to the government or common criminal. However, many non-royal aristocratic lands were originally taken by the same unjust use of force. We could, of course, go around seizing these lands off of people and offering them up for homesteading, but this action seems impractical and ultimately, quite pointless. If there is nobody alive to rightfully claim these lands back, I see no point in punishing families for the actions of their distant ancestors. There has to be some kind of statute of limitation on punishment, and I would say that a few hundred years is perfectly fair. As anarcho-capitalists we have to be practical; just as we would not be locking up our neighbours next door for having a cigarette and introducing toxic fumes that aggress against us into the atmosphere, we should equally not be going around yoinking land off people because their distant ancestors acquired it unjustly many centuries ago.

Of course, this is where our defence of monarchy has to end. Naturally I am not in favour of the Queen being head of the state, because I don’t believe there should be a state to be a head of. I simply believe that the Queen and her family should be allowed to live peacefully off of the revenue of their own lands in an anarchist society. Many Brits may still follow the lives of the Royal family and consider themselves ‘subjects’; many may not. Voluntary association at its finest. Mind you, any more invading other people’s land and it’s straight to the Tower of London with you, Queenie.

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  • AnCapsLock

    The Queen has no power over us but should exercise her theoretical power more often? Her claim to violently seized and protected lands isn’t bad because it happened a long time ago? Well there is is continued sustained violence in order to protect their unjust land titles but lol we’re just being practical! I mean nobody should be in charge, in theory but apart from that I’m totally for inherited privilege and monarchy.

    AnCaps go home, your drunk.

  • Simon Rigelsford

    The Crown Estate is NOT the property of Elizabeth Windsor. That’s where you’re wrong. It is not “essentially their private land” because if it was, then Elizabeth Windsor would be able to choose who inherits it – this is why your comparison with land owned by aristocratic people isn’t valid. Rather, the Crown Estate is the property of the Crown – so if we abolish the Crown, the Crown Estate can be sold off (and become ACTUAL private property) and the revenue raised can be used to reduce taxes etc. (As it happens, the Queen does have quite a lot of private land as well, which should obviously not be confiscated from her.)

    You attack a straw man – hardly any republicans have any dislike of the Queen as a human being; our problem is with a system of monarchy rather than with any personal gripes against a little old lady – and most of us do indeed think that she is a little old lady and not a reptilian shapeshifter.

    You also contradict yourself when discussing the Queen’s power, as AnCapsLock noted. I think you’re right when you say that in practice the Queen has no power, but surely it’s not unreasonable to oppose even theoretical power, just as a matter of principle… and remember, that theoretical power isn’t just the power to protect liberty, but the power to do whatever the hell she wants to any of us, (theoretically) backed up by the force of the state.

    Surely there can be no libertarian response to this other than: “no, it’s not right for you to have that power even in theory, you do not have more rights than me on account of your bloodline. I don’t object to you being rich, or to people bowing and curtseying to you or practically worshipping you as a celebrity if they want to, but you are not my ruler.”

    • http://sadbutmadlad.com/ SadButMadLad

      What’s the difference between the Queen exercising some theoretical power and a president? Both can use the power to protect liberty, but both can also abuse the power to do whatever the hell they wants to any of us, (theoretically) backed up by the force of the state. In fact the president is more likely to have the state back them than royalty which is kept at a very distance arms length from the state.

      I’m no monarchist, but neither am I a republican. Both require someone to be the head. Republicans believe the fallacy that a president is democratically elected – using the same democratic process which gives us the current lot of MPs who are so crap at their job that they don’t know which end of their body to talk out of. Monarchists believe the fallacy that they are subject of a Queen (or King) who has the ultimate power of authority. Both are wrong.

      I’m a realist. Human societies need a head, someone to follow, even if they are just a figurehead. Hundreds of years of tradition has given us royalty. It’s not perfect, but neither is it broken. So why fix it?

      The whole point of figureheads is that they are something that stands the test of time. Look on royalty as a brand. So Cillit Bang! has a shouty man as it’s figurehead. CompareTheMarket has a meerkat. The UK has a monarch. A constitutional monarch is very libertarian, you have the choice of curtseying and accepting gongs or not. They have no real power so they can’t force you to bow down before them. Unlike many presidents who have forced citizen to bow down before them.

  • guidofawkes

    I was an anarcho-capitalist, still am after a few drinks. I don’t think anarcho-capitalists can by definition be defenders of Heads of State, they’re kind of the Coercers-in-Chief.

  • theblueguerilla

    One will cease being an anarcho-capitalist when they grow up.

  • Watchman

    Seems a sensible point – and as for the fact the Crown estate belongs to the crown not the monarch, it might be worth pointing out that the crown belongs to the monarch, and that if we abolished the crown, the property therein would still belong to the family that held the crown previously (the clue here is that the monarchy is hereditary).
    And as for the original point about descendents of those the land was stolen from, as the Jacobite and Yorkish claims have died out, the longest standing claim (indeed older than them) would be that of the Anglo-Saxon rulers, whose last representative Edgar the Æthling’s heir was his sister, Margaret, who married the King of Scotland. So there is a family that could claim the royal estates of England – the royal family of Scotla… hang on, there was this union thing a while back wasn’t there?
    Other than that, anyone arguing the land was stolen not only has to find living relatives to claim it (only possible around Catalonia in Europe I’d have thought) but has to prove it was stolen rather than returned or confiscated legally. As we don’t know by what rights early medieval kings acquired their lands (which might then be granted to others and reclaimed) this is rather difficult to prove.
    Oh, and presumably an anarcho-capitalist should be opposed to being told what an anarcho-capitalist should believe – I think the anarcho bit indicates that myself.

    • jockox3

      We do know that their property was almost never acquired justly. And that’s the symbolism of the institution I hate. That it embeds robbery and murder at the top of our society.

      I’m no republican.

      But I’m no monarchist either.

      I can agree with, e.g. Hoppe, that some forms of absolute rule can be fine if we have a choice to patronise them or not, but we’re talking about a family that lays claim not just to the land on which 65 million of us live but of all sorts of illegitimately exproriated places all over the world. Not statelets we can move between easily if we don’t like their policies.

      And you don’t need to find the rightful heir, as Rothbard said, just that their holdings were not justly acquired. If they cannot be found then the property returns to an unowned state, but if the existing holders have not acquired it justly that’s all you need to prove for it to be illegitimate IMO.

      • http://sadbutmadlad.com/ SadButMadLad

        Most of those illegitimately (under what law) expropriated lands have decided to be claimed by the Queen. Some have left, others have stayed. I don’t see the Queen or any part of the monarchy doing anything to force those countries to stay (or leave).

    • Remittance Man

      Actually there are two kinds of estate – the Crown estate and the Windsor family’s personal property.

      The Crown estate, which includes the Crown Jewels, is the nation’s property and provides the official income for the Royals to do the job we expect of them – their salary if you will. If the monarchy was abolished this would remain the property of the British nation.

      The private estate which includes Sandringham, the Queen’s very successful horse breeding interests and a lot more, is theirs in their personal capacity. If a republic were declared, this property would remain in the hands of the family.

  • Perry de Havilland

    I rather like the idea of a head-of-state who reigns-but-does-not-rule. And frankly the Royals cost chump change compared to the democratically elected vampires who actually do rule over us.

  • Steve Le Steve-Steve

    The worst oppressors in the modern UK are the Democratically elected Lib-Lab-Con party. As stated, the only power the Monarchy currently holds is to *prevent* oppression from the tin-pot democratically elected scum, not a bad thing, though too infrequently used. What say we first get rid of the Democraticaly elected oppressors, then worry about the Monarchy?

  • Gold Bug

    Not quite clear on the maths but I think 18.05% of £200 million is £36.1 million. Actually their tax rate is 84.5%.

    • Voluntary Anarchist

      Except it isn’t, because the profits of the Crown Estate belong to the civilian government, not the Monarchy – as agreed by George III over 250 years ago.

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  • Remittance Man

    Anarcho-capitalist idealism aside, I think it’s fair to assume every state needs some sort of government. If we work from that premis then every government needs someone with the final absolute power to say: “No, stop!” if only to prevent the politicians from going completely tonto – a trait that is distressingly common amongst the species and therefore one to guard against.

    In most countries that power is grabbed by a loon who has taken it by force or a politician who has either sold his soul campaigning for it or performed so perfectly as a party drone, he is appointed to the post by parliament. In Britain it is given to some poor schmuck who had no choice, no desire for it and no urge to use it.

    That strikes me as a rather good insurance policy and worth the small amount of cash it needs – most of which we would have to spend on a president anyway.

  • Voluntary Anarchist

    Not only is the Crown Estate not the Queen’s private land because it was taken by force – but because the Crown surrendered it to the civilian government in 1760 under George III in return for a stipend and the state taking the monarch’s debts.

    • A. P. Schrader

      All this ‘taken by force stuff’ is such balls. If you go back far enough, all property was taken by someone at some point or other. But then look who I’m arguing with. Anarchists regard all property as theft, right?

      The deal done with King George III has to be reaffirmed by each succeeding monarchy and the commencement of each new reign, so the Crown Estates remain very much the property of the Royal Family. The arrangement is subject to periodic renewal.

  • Free Caledonia

    Its true that the purpose of the royal family is largely symbolic these days however
    getting rid of them would be equally symbolic. They represent a society where some people believe they have a right to rule over others without their consent. A group of people who see themselves as special, deserving greater protections and privileges, a cut above above everyone else.

    They evoke an era of empire, war and slavery and symbolise the vulgar, pompous nature of the whole political class of this country. So in economic terms getting rid of them might not make much difference but I think if you are serious about reducing state power and control you can’t possibly support their continued existence.

    To call them “quaint and benign” is to ignore the important role they play in the kabuki theater of British politics. You wouldn’t call a Leni Riefenstahl film “benign” and the royal family are just as much a form of propaganda, promoting the lie that there are people who are more valuable than you. They are a significant part of the hegemonic control exerted by the political class in this country. Its a form of cultural control encouraging subservience and compliance to authority. That is why you should oppose them.

  • Conza

    Re: “There has to be some kind of statute of limitation on punishment, and I would say that a few hundred years is perfectly fair.”

    = Justice doesn’t have a count down.

    “Since socialism cannot arise without the expropriation of assets
    originally “created” and owned by individual homesteaders, producers,
    and/or contractors, all socialist property, ill-begotten from the very
    start, should be forfeited. No government, even if freely elected, can
    be considered the owner of any socialist property, for a criminal heir,
    even if himself innocent, does not become the legitimate owner of
    illegitimately acquired assets. Because of his personal innocence he
    remains exempt from persecution, but all of his “inherited” gains must
    immediately revert to the original victims, and their repossession of
    socialist property must take place without their being required to pay
    anything. In fact, to charge a victimized population a price for the
    reacquisition of what was originally its own would itself be a crime and
    would forever take away any innocence that a government previously
    might have had.”

    More specifically, all original property titles should be recognized
    immediately, regardless of who presently owns them. In so far as the
    claims of original private owners or their heirs clash with those of the
    current assets’ users, the former should override the latter. Only if a
    current user can prove that an original owner-heir’s claim is
    illegitimate – that the title to the property in question had initially
    been acquired by coercion or fraudulent means – should a user’s claim
    prevail and should he be recognized as the legitimate owner.[10]”
    — Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy: The God that Failed, p125.

  • Liberty

    Completely agree. I think it’s even plausible that the monarchy will still be a useful institution after the government has ceased to exist: http://thetaintsofliberty.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/part-2-monarchy-for-anarcho-capitalists.html

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