Socialism is often a dirty word for many (proud) reactionaries, myself included in the not so distant past, conjuring images of revolution and destruction of various old regimes, or simply rewarding the lazy. For the most part, this is an accurate (perhaps slightly misguided) view of socialism; a system that at its core tends and needs to promote the common, collective good versus the individual good. The past couple of months, I've struggled quite often on how to tackle socialism, at times almost being drawn into its hypnotic gaze, though never understanding exactly why - until I figured it out via discussions with various friends.
Quite frankly, socialism (and communism) shares much more with the old regimes than capitalism ever can, due to the focus generally speaking on agrarian lifestyles and the ultimate goal of small, decentralized government (rarely achieved if ever, unfortunately). For the sake of this post, I'll use a rather strong socialist government as my example, one we don't often see in the world, in order to draw comparisons between "feudalism" and socialism.
- The state provides housing for the citizen.
- The state provides work for the citizen.
- The state expects loyalty and taxes from the citizen as a result.
- The lord provides land for the subject
- The lord provides work in the way of farming for the subject, which the subject uses to grow his own food.
- The lord in return expects service (militarily when needed) and taxes for compensation, as well as a share of the subjects crops.
Or is it that simple? Quite frankly, we've seen many militarized "socialist" states, to such an extent that one dares wonder if they can even be called false socialists as the USSR is often accused of! The most "guilty" offender for this is none other than a state that fascinates me to no end: The Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea.
The comparisons may seem rather slim at first, but this is mostly due to even the most reactionary of peoples misunderstanding of what the politics of the middle ages consisted of: a military. Nothing more, nothing less. The "state" in the middle ages didn't even consist of the monarch, but his nobles, his aristocracy. I've already covered (at least I think so; it's been so long) the damage Absolute Monarchy did despite how monarchists often herald it as a "golden age", so I won't get into specifics on the middle ages and the "fragility" of their position, but I will say that bar none, North Korea is exactly what I refer to when I speak of states that show perhaps an odd transition to an "older" system.
Being a state run by the military and a hereditary dynasty (thus far, at least), with the sons and daughters of important individuals being forced to serve in the nations military, it really does sound as if North Korea has its own, albeit dysfunctional, military aristocracy, the classical Aristocracy and the only legitimate Aristocracy, despite what today's Plutocrats would like to believe.
While all of this may seem appealing on paper to Aristocrats, the reality is obviously North Korea is a sad state, its isolation and poverty serving to tarnish what little prestige it could have. At some point, the North made critical errors in judgment, especially given the states success in the 1960's and 70's, when it was, for the last time, a legitimate threat to the bourgeoisie South Koreans. This has little to do with the pseudo Aristocracy it created and more to do with its peculiar isolation, nationalism and xenophobia to the rest of the world.
One would think that there's no hope for the sort of "socialist counter-revolution" if we use North Korea as an example, but thanks to one David Starkey , I stumbled upon a fascinating "conspiracy". At the end of his rather interesting but unfortunately populist series called "Monarchy", Starkey discusses the future of the monarchy. He argues that an institution that has only survived because of its willingness to adapt to various periods and crisis's of history, the only way it can survive into the future is again, more change.
Starkey, rather than allude to the monarchy being stubborn, instead states the monarchy is in this stage right now, in the guise of the Prince of Wales and his sons, William and Harry. The "new" role of the monarchy, he argues, is one of charity and goodwill, the end goal being the unification of the people via their various charities and borderline socialist policies.
One not need look far to see examples of Charles and his sons engaging in what we may refer to as socialism - providing houses, jobs and education for under-privileged youth, the monarchy is showing an interest in perhaps garnering loyalty amongst the youth - based on providing services.
Is this the future of the monarchy? To provide what the state wont and in turn, perhaps garner loyalty? To have the impoverished rely on them for aid and support where no one else will help? If so, then this easily could be a transition that I wholeheartedly applaud - one I wish I didn't write on partly due to the fact that if it's true, so many would take it as a negative rather than a positive. Could it be the beginning of a resurgence of the "old ways"?
This blogger hopes so and infact, for once, is anticipating this eagerly. It almost seems too good to be true to imagine the modern royal family actually doing what it should be doing - recognizing its true, legitimate role and that of its people.