Despite having access to some of the world’s best doctors and medical care, well-known ninety-six-year-old British billionaire widow Elizabeth Windsor died peacefully of natural causes yesterday afternoon, 8 September 2022. Windsor, who in her youth had trained as a driver and auto mechanic and who made her small contribution to the great struggle against fascism that was World War II, spent the last six decades of her very long life as the traditional ceremonial head of the U.K. government, acting under the title of “Queen Elizabeth II.” She is survived by several children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. One of her sons, Charles, has been named as her successor, and has reportedly proclaimed himself “King Charles III.”
The death of a well-known “monarch” (here referring to the ancient traditional office, not the butterfly of the same name) has evoked condolences from, around the world. Presidents, prime ministers and heads of state from every region of the globe have expressed their sadness at the passing of Britain’s long-time official Head of State, who also functioned as ceremonial leader of several of Britain’s now-independent former colonies.
But how should Marxists the world around regard this passing? Some have taken an old-fashioned, doctrinaire nineteenth-century Marxist approach, that the passing of any “royal” is a holiday for us, that one less “monarch” is a gain for the people of the world. And certainly, there is much to argue in favor of this approach. As an article posted on the Russian leftist website Redfish militantly declares, “Queen Elizabeth II has died. Oppressed people worldwide will remember her for shamelessly living off the wealth her family reaped from the profits of slavery, on the backs of ‘her subjects’ across the British Empire and the taxes of workers in the UK.”
The Redfish article faults Elizabeth for “never acknowledging her country’s brutal legacy,” and associates her with the crimes of British imperialism, going all the way back to the vicious and genocidal “Company Raj” of the East India Company in South Asia, a domination which existed from 1600 through 1858. The article also cites the Bengal Famine “that led to the deaths of millions” in the 1940’s, Britain’s extreme brutality in suppressing the pro-independence Mau Mau uprising from 1952 to 1960 in Kenya, and even Britain’s key part in the transatlantic slave trade in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Certainly, even though demanding apologies for historic crimes is a current trend worldwide, conscious Leftists may reasonably ask how today’s workers materially profit from such apologies, such as when Pope Francis recently and abjectly apologized for his Church’s past crimes against native youth in residential schools in Canada. Not a single victim was raised from the dead by his apology, not a single coin of reparations was offered, and just as in the case of the East India Company, all the perpetrators and even the systems involved are long gone and well beyond the reach of justice.
The reality is that monarchists and ruling monarchs, as the terms would have been defined in Marx’s time, positively shine by their absence in the 21st Century. The doctrine of “the divine right of kings” is thoroughly dead, as dead as the Tsars and the Kaisers and the Caesars who upheld it. True “Monarchs” are more of an endangered species in our day than the butterflies of the same name. In public, Elizabeth played the part of a “monarch” exceedingly well, but always as an actor, someone wearing the mask and going through the motions. She herself acknowledged as much in 1982 when an intruder broke into her living quarters at Buckingham palace, and she pleaded for her life by describing herself as a simple elderly woman. A King James or King Charles of earlier centuries would have described themselves as somehow divinely anointed, far above mortal men or women, but in the 21st Century that time has passed.
So, who died yesterday? A very well known, elderly billionaire woman who was exceedingly accomplished at what she did, playing the part of a ceremonial head of state. One could reasonably argue that she deserves neither more nor less honor in her passing than any other “granny” of 96 years. Marxists firmly reject and have always rejected the concept of “family guilt,” just as we reject as trash the ideas of “family nobility” or “noble blood.” We, the working people, are more noble any day of the week than any so-called “hereditary nobility,” and can thus stand up in all our power and our nobility and say to Elizabeth, “RIP.”
As Granma, the Official Organ of the Communist Party of Cuba reports this morning, “In recognition of the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland on 8 September 2022, the President of the Republic of Cuba has proclaimed a period of official mourning from 6:00 am to 12:00 midnight today, 9 September.” We as leftists and Communists join with our Cuban comrades in briefly dipping our flags in sadness.