For a workers’ republic

IF The Guardian is anything to go by, republicanism is “a growing force in our society” (January 9).

To back up this cheery claim, the newspaper has conducted an extensive opinion poll (groan), which reveals that 28%, out of a random sample of 1,003 adults, are now ‘republicans’ (of course, only 8% “want to end the monarchy immediately” - you cannot go too far). Also, an “astonishing” 34% are “not especially keen” on the monarchy.

So, does that mean hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of workers are about to take to the streets, demanding the dictatorship of the proletariat now? No, of course not. What we are witnessing is a slight - probably temporary - upsurge in bourgeois republicanism, not proletarian republicanism.

Trotsky once said, “No demon cuts off its own claws.” Similarly, the monarchy is not going to peacefully wither away into nothingness. Nor, more pertinently, will the ruling-class willingly divest itself of a significant counterrevolutionary weapon.

Any serious examination of the history of monarchies shows that they are only removed, or dislodged, by a revolutionary movement in society - or, reluctantly, offered as a sacrificial lamb to the masses, in an attempt to head off revolution. They are not reformed out of existence.

Predictably, the Charter 88-type think tank tinkers are blissfully unaware of this. They are content to conjure up tortuous schemes - eg, ‘slimmed down’ royals, kicking them out of Buckingham Palace, removal of hereditary peers, Freedom of Information acts, etc - which they imagine will rid bourgeois society of its current malaise. Jack Straw even believes that the monarchy (‘slimmed down’ version of course) can “become a figurehead at the apex of a classless society” (The Guardian December 5 1994).

Communists treat such ‘radical’ utopianism with contempt. The only ‘realist’ approach to the monarchy, and all its parasitic entourage, is to destroy the capitalist system which nurtures the royals and which the royals feed off. This means good-bye to the House of Lords, House of Commons, the standing army, civil service and all the weapons of bourgeois rule. We need a workers’ republic.

Eddie Ford