Re: Is rational patriotism anti-extropian? I don't think so...

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Wed Apr 19 2000 - 02:42:34 MDT

On Tue, Apr 18, 2000 at 12:05:38PM -0400, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> > ...... Theoretically, Lizzie Saxe-Coburg-Gotha has the power to tell
> > Tony Blair to go fuck himself.
> Is that what their real last name is? I'd wondered. I thought calling themselves 'the
> Windsors' was a bit too much of a pose. Is the Gotha from Prince Phillip?

Naah. Saxe-Coburg Gotha was the old family name. They changed it
to Windsor by deed poll in 1916 or thereabouts, because it sounded
far too German and kept reminding people that Kaiser Wilhelm II was
actually George V's cousin. (To say nothing of being the Tsar's first
cousin. Europe back in 1914 was effectively owned by a couple of families,
and Queen Victoria -- who had about ten sprogs in her time -- was the
glue that bound them together.)

> If Tony Blair tossed over the Queen if she got 'uppity', he definitely could get away
> with it, but would it be legal? I don't think so.

It _would_ be, but the logic is remarkably convoluted. What would happen
would be a constitutional crisis. The outcome of a constitutional crisis
that pits the monarch against parliament is that the monarch loses -- at
least, every time since the English Civil War. The solution is usually for
the reigning monarch to abdicate and be replaced by a more
tractable^H^H^H^Hreasonable one. (Example: Edward VIII, abdication crisis.)

The thing is, the monarch cannot legislate. Nor can the monarch issue
executive orders. The *crown* issues executive orders, and although the
crown derives its authority from the monarchy, its power is actually
delegated to the government, in the person of the cabinet of ministers
(with the prime minister notionally acting as first among equals, rather
than being a presidential figure -- though you wouldn't know it to look
at recent history). So the queen may stamp and shout and scream "I won't
do it!" but she doesn't actually have the legal authority _not_ to do
it (whatever it is). Just to go on strike.

> > That wasn't really my point, anyway. My point was that the power structures
> > that replaced the authoritarian monarchs may have notionally derived their
> > authority from the people rather than "because God _said_ I was better than
> > you peasants", but *it's still a power structure*, with many of the same
> > attributes and relationships to the outside world.
> Yes, however it subsumes that power structure under the authority of the people,
> rather than the other way around. They can change that power structure if they have
> sufficient will to do so, and theoretically thats what they do every election (I know,
> thats a real funny one Mike). Theoretically, the people now have the right to
> eliminate that power structure entirely, legally.

Theoretically. In practice the people *immediately* delegated their
sovreignty to a bunch of elected representatives; executive power ditto.
And now they can't, *in practice*, get the power back -- any more than
Lizzie Windsor can declare herself feudal monarch and demand her rights
to my body under droit de seigneur.

-- Charlie

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