The objective of this article is to critique the article “When all else fails, write to the Queen declaring your lawful rebellion” which was published here:
I believe that the article “When all else fails, write to the Queen declaring your lawful rebellion” – advances some political ideas that could do more harm than good. Just like the author of the aforementioned article, I am also no fan of the royals. My heart fills with despair and hatred every time the juggernaut of royal pageantry is deployed to pacify the unruly subjects. Their misfortunes and disasters are a source of immense joy to me; when Prince Charles’s motorcade was attacked by student protestors in 2010 I distinctly remember bouncing up and down with happiness. However, I do not believe that institutions of hereditary power and privilege can ever serve any purpose other than to continue and increase their own positions of entrenched power and wealth.
Writing to authority figures with letters and petitions asking for their mercy has a long and noble history of complete fail, perhaps most notably the Chartists, the first mass working class movement in Britain that agitated for the right of all males to vote- a highly radical demand for the 19th century. In 1848 they handed the government a petition with 2 million signatures demanding male suffrage. The government simply dismissed the petition out of hand since some of the signatures were fakes. The “moral force” Chartists may have been morally correct, but this was little use against the 100,000 special constables recruited to stamp out the movement.
The larger problem with petitions and written requests to authority figures is that it surrenders political agency to the powerful – reinforcing existing power relations by sitting back and waiting for them to act. In my view it is a mistake to ask somebody who is already powerful and influential to act on behalf of the powerless – so much better to organise amongst the powerless to increase their agency. The powerful rarely concede to demands that reduce their power, and when they do it will be the absolute minimum concessions possible that will further shore up their control as they come across all progressive by giving the smallest bit of ground.
Writing a letter to the Queen will achieve nothing. However, if I have understood the article correctly, writing a letter to the Queen is stage one of a master plan that continues with declaring a state of “lawful rebellion” on the basis that Welfare reform is illegal due to a NuLabour reform of the House of Lords rendered every other act of Parliament invalid and that the Magna Carta protects us from tyrannical parliaments and royals ruling by divine right (which are considered to be the same thing despite being two distinct political phenomena)
So apparently, since the Nu Labour reform of the House of Lords in 1999, “no Act of Parliament since is legally valid” 14 years of legislation is not legally valid. Ok. The language here is highly telling, as it goes on to say how Condem policies that have killed 10,600 people are legally null and void. However, regardless of whether they are legal or not, those 10,600 people are still dead. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if these policies are legal or not. Whether something is legal does not dictate if it is moral or acceptable. Nor have the ruling class every really given too much time to obeying the law. The invasion of Iraq was illegal, yet Tony Blair is now a Middle East Peace Envoy. Phone Hacking is illegal, yet at every petrol station and WH Smiths from Plymouth to Lossiemouth is selling the Sun. People who splutter and stew about how certain government policies are actually illegal according to X bylaw or Y international convention have always seemed about 3 steps behind to me. There is more at stake than abiding by an arbitrary legal system.
The article then goes on to talk about the Magna Carta how British people have a birth right of protection from tyranny and then how to engage in lawful rebellion. This too is for me highly problematic. A rudimentary study of British history will show the poor and the disenfranchised being treated very badly indeed. Be it children having to work in narrow seam coal mines during the industrial revolution or Muslims being spied on, abducted and handed over to the Americans for some “enhanced interrogation”, the history of Britain is that of oppressor and oppressed. The Magna Carta has never really protected people from injustice and never will do.
This view of the Magna Carta as some kind of messianic document from the past that will save us from oppression however appears relatively intelligent compared to this little gem. “We all know that should a significant portion of us manage successfully to live outside their system that the government will seek to regain control over us by any means it deems necessary and it will quote law (statute law) to justify itself.” Interestingly, governments actually go further than just quoting statue law to regain control of rebelling populations. Thousands of years of rebellions, from the English peasant uprisings to the Syrian revolution against Bashar Al Assad show us that rulers will kill, imprison and torture without hesitation to stay in control if “a significant portion of use manage… to live outside the system” and this is seen as enough of a threat. Being able to outwit a government in a battle of legal terminology will be far down your list of priorities. No level of proficiency at understanding or explaining the legal system will stop police brutality or heavy handed treatment from the state. Try stopping a police officer caving your head in on a demonstration by informing him about Article 61 of the Magna Carta 1215AD.
The entire thought process and ideology (although it may be an insult to all other political ideologies to justify this as such) is reactionary, nationalist and regressive. It closely follows the ideas of the Freemen on the Land Movement. My first contact with FOTL was at a forest occupation called Defend Huntington Lane in 2010. A man in his early sixties call Jon who’s only apparent contribution to the occupation was to sit around the fire telling people that if you refuse to “stand under” a police officer by never saying you “understand them” (hurhurhur) and how the Falklands war was clandestinely started by Margaret Thatcher. It has members in the UK and Canada, and in the US is known as the Sovereign Citizen movement, which has been connected to a string of terrorist attacks; the Oklahoma City bombing, an attack on a natural gas pipeline, and one member who flew his light aircraft into a tax building in a kamikaze attack. Although the UK version has not led to any similar acts of violence, the ideas it espouses are in no way helpful to say, stopping cuts to welfare, which the article below hardly seems to mention.
Resistance is fertile; there are so many different forms of fighting back just waiting to be tried out, but please, please do not write to Queen Elizabeth, or go in for any Freeman on the Land quasi-legal Magna Carta mysticism. Our brothers and sisters across the world are fighting tyranny much worse than Condem austerity and I would be ashamed to think that this is the most the British movement is capable of. The only conspiracy theory (there, I said it) I believe is that the Queen may indeed be a lizard; we should be trying to kick the damn reptile off its throne, not writing to it!