Elizabeth II has died – Death to all the monarchies!

These last few days, the headlines of all the media outlets of the entire world talk about the death of a single person, evidently a very important one: the British queen Elizabeth II. Beyond the protocols and anecdotes, here are some thoughts about her history, the role of monarchies and the pending democratic tasks in the perspective to fight for in-depth political changes.

By Pablo Vasco

During her 70 years in the throne, the longest reign in British history, Elizabeth II visited 116 countries. And not once did she need to prove her identity nor own a passport, since she was the one who authorized them in her country. In the times when millions of people are undocumented or, worse, forced migrants that suffer violence and discrimination, such a prerogative is a confirmation of the great power of the British Crown.

Her personal fortune was estimated at around 450 million dollars, smaller than many multimillionaire capitalists of the world but huge for an extremely privileged person who never worked in her long life and that until the 90s did not even pay the income tax. Owner of 315 residencies, commercial stores and thousands of hectares of agricultural land, in 2017 the queen was involved in the scandal of the Paradise Papers for irregular deposits in the Cayman and Bermuda Islands, known as tax havens.

At the time of her death, Elizabeth II was not only the queen of Great Britain but also of another 14 countries, members of the Commonwealth, among Canada, Australia and New Zealand [1]. Said “commonwealth of nations” has in total 54 country members, all of them former British colonies and semi-colonies, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and several African countries. This is because until after World War II the United Kingdom was the main imperialist power of the world.

Even though since the post-war the United States clearly emerged as the new dominant imperialism in the world, leaving Great Britain behind, through the Commonwealth and its institutions it still maintains an economic, political and cultural influence over the majority of the country members, more or less strong depending on the case.

Of one the pirates

When she turned 21, in a radio broadcast to the entire Commonwealth, the young Elizabeth publicly promised: “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” And she fulfilled it: she dedicated her entire life to defend the interests of her monarchic caste, of her class and the capitalist system in general and of the British Empire in particular.

 Crowned in 1952 after the death of her father, King George VI, her task was carried out by Elizabeth II with blood and fire against all the rebellions and emancipatory revolutions carried out by the peoples of her former colonies, and also against the liberation movements in her own territory, as in the cases of Ireland and Scotland. The same towards the combative British labor movement, as for example their public criticism of the mining strike in 1984-1985.

Under her reign, Great Britain has been a member of NATO since its creation in 1949: the North Atlantic imperialist military alliance led by the U.S.A. In 1956 Britain invaded Egypt together with France in an attempt to appropriate the Suez Canal. In 1965 the queen dismissed the prime minister of Rhodesia for an attempt at independence. In 1982, as the maximum political head of the usurping power, she supported the Malvinas War against Argentina. Likewise, she intervened militarily in Malaysia (1948-1950), Kenya (1952-1960), Korea (1950-1951), Brunei and Oman (1962), Iran (1980), Iraq (1990-1991 and 1998), Sierra Leone (2000), Afghanistan (2002 and 2006-2007), Libya (2011) and Syria (2018), among many other imperialist operations.

Just as in 1674 the English King Charles II recognized the pirate Henry Morgan as a knight, Queen Elizabeth II did not play a mere protocol or decorative role but encouraged or endorsed, as the highest representative of British political power, every foreign or domestic intervention in the interests of the imperialist capitalist class.

The democratic struggle, in the hands of the working class

Remnant of the times of feudalism, when they were the hereditary and predominant institution of political power, the permanence of monarchies in more than 40 countries of the world under the current capitalist-imperialist system confirms that the bourgeoisie as a class has been incapable of fully fulfilling the democratic tasks assigned to it by history: the national liberation of countries, agrarian reform and the constitution of republics on the basis of popular vote.

Capitalism has assimilated the monarchical institution and uses it to reinforce class conciliation under the slogan of “national unity”, especially in moments of strong political crisis. Elizabeth II died but her son Charles, the new king, will try to continue fulfilling the same reactionary role.

In general, with a growing erosion due to their arbitrariness, privileges and fiscal and even sexual scandals, a variety of monarchical forms persist in the world. In some countries they are combined with parliaments elected by popular vote, as in Spain, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Great Britain itself, Jordan and Morocco. In other countries absolute monarchies rule, such as Swaziland (today Esuatini), Brunei or Saudi Arabia, whose name is the surname of the ruling dynasty (Saudi). In Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates there are hybrid monarchies, whose kings have more powers than the parliaments. And in two countries there are “elective” monarchies: Malaysia (the king is elected by a council of rulers) and the theocratic state of the Vatican (the Pope is elected by a conclave of cardinals).

Beyond their particular format in each country, all these monarchical regimes must be swept out of history. To lead this pending democratic struggle, of course, the bourgeois leaderships and their reformist allies, who surrender to the monarchy and to the capitalist system as a whole, are no longer useful. Moreover: the greetings of communist and social-democratic leaders to the royal family are shameful.

The consistent battle to defeat the monarchies where they exist and to constitute republics is then the task of the working class and the revolutionary party, but that struggle should not remain in a change of political regime but advance to a fundamental change, a change of the whole economic-social system. Because an authentic democracy worthy of the name, without the thousand and one traps of bourgeois democracy, will only be achieved with the construction of a truly egalitarian society, that is to say, a socialist society.

As an Argentine, as a socialist militant and as a former volunteer during the Malvinas War, no mourning or condolences for the dead queen. On the contrary: down with the monarchies in Great Britain and all over the world, as part of the revolutionary struggle for socialism!

[1] Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.