Thanks Ellen.Ellen wrote: ↑Sun Apr 25, 2021 5:46 amLook at the decline of the Britain, for an example. In the series, "The Crown", the Queen laments to her sister that when she inherited the throne in 1952, Britain was still a formidable empire (although minus its greatest jewel - the Indian Raj and minus the Holy Land). "Now look at it. All that's happened during my reign is the place is falling apart."
True, but it wasn't her fault, first of all. She reigned, but didn't rule.
Then she laments further that she has been useless and unhelpful to the country as it entered its decline. Of course, in some sense, that's true, but her own grandmother Queen Mary told her that her job was to do nothing, to always be impartial. So what could she actually have done? Nothing really.
Then, her sister replies, "You have been calm." The Royal Family, and especially the Queen's calmness and lack of emotion and perseverence with seemingly outdated traditions have papered over the cracks of British decline, which otherwise might have become a chasm that all of them would have fallen into. The dignity and superstardom of the Monarchy gave the British people, even as their country declined, a connection to their great imperial past. Their great achievements still remembered. And their connection to some of the up and coming great powers such as the US and lesser powers like Canada, Australia, India, etc that still carry the legacy of their British roots.
That isn't such a bad outcome. All great powers decline, and but not all leave lasting and admirable legacies. Britian is still a 2d or third-tier power. It still counts for something in the world. The Queen and her increasingly insufferable family still have an international stature that is second to none, in terms of public interest. There are worse fates, look at Syria. Look at the ruin of Iran that could have been the preeminent power in the Middle East. Look at Brazil that was always supposed to be on its way to great powerdom, but never seems to get there.
The US could decline and still be a formidable and influential power, but it must - like Britian - reconcile itself to more modest achievements, more work on its own internal problems, and less pontificating on the world stage about how great capitalism and democracy are, and its own versions of each. A little more modesty is in order, I think. China will be a great power but will never reach the status of the US in the 1940-1970 period. It will be one of several great powers, but less liked and less admired than America once was. Great powers are never liked or admired for very long. The US leadership must get used to its own decline and learn some lessons from Queen Elizabeth.
Had Queen Elizabeth been a lesser person than she turned out to be Great Britain (and Northern Ireland) would have probably had a rougher traverse from global primacy to secondary power. As for the Dominions: being the citizen of one of them I would like to put in a word here.
I cannot speak of New Zealand as this dominion unlike Canada and Australia functions as a unitary state, not a federation. It was only quite recently in an online discussion on this very website that the vexing old issue of "where does soverignty lie: at the federal level or with the states?" It dawned on my (for the first time in my life) that the maintenance of the legal fiction that national soverignty is vested in the person of the reigning monarch serves a very practical and useful purpose. For it allows both Canada and Australia to permanently dodge the question of where soverignty lies. Since it belongs to neither there is no point in arguing over it.
But all this is of no help to the United States which seems to have no equivalent fallback position. The then fledgling US republic rejected the monarchy back in 1776-83 (even though the American public still retains a curious fascination with the institution ) . What they substituted in 1789 was a radical constitution based on a set of abstract ideas that seem to pay no heed to the value of tradition and continuity. Herein lies the problem.
I do not believe that the USA will accept its own decline from primary power to secondary anything like as smoothly and graceously as The UK did Ellen. Since even the question of where national soverignty lies, state or federal, seems not to have been permanently settled in 1861 (the secessionist Confederate states argued for seperation on the basis that the US confederacy was only a voluntary association of soverign states while Abe Lincoln viewed the American union more as one with soverignty vested at the federal level with the states being merely semi-self governing subdivisions within the unitary whole). Yes, the grounds are there for a second violent breakup of the United States - but over a quite different set of issues this time.
Politics in the USA is more a "tooth and claw, no holds barred" affair than we are used to because the monarchy in Britain sets areas of public life 'off limits" to competitive politics while in the United States nothing seems to be held sacred: everything is political.