Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse

King Charles and the Jacobin Right

A strange and convenient about-turn

Artillery Row

Charles Windsor has gone through an extraordinarily rapid transformation. We all know that he became King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and its overseas territories and other Commonwealth realms, the second the Queen’s heart stopped beating on the afternoon of Thursday, 8 September 2022. In the minds of the UK’s Jacobin Right, he went through an even more dramatic metamorphosis at the same time: from the lunatic lefty “Clown Prince” who was in league with Bill Gates, Klaus Schwab, George Soros and the other members of the shadowy elite syndicate that apparently run the world through the obscure auspices of the World Economic Forum — to His Majesty the King, the venerable Sovereign and beloved Liege Lord of the great country on God’s green earth. 

It is one enormous throbbing id dressed up as a political ideology

It’s easy to mock the motley cast of characters that make up the crankish world of the Guido-GB News British right — and it’s very entertaining, too, so let’s do that for a paragraph. Many of them appear to be confused adolescent boys who accidentally wandered into a TV studio in the middle of a school trip and have mysteriously never been asked to leave since. Like a horrible right-wing mirror image of the deranged children that inhabit that barely-glorified hard-left intellectual creche “Novara Media”, they have been conducting an adolescent William Hague impersonation contest ever since — although to be fair to North Yorkshire’s favourite pint-downing former Tory leader, they have succeeded in making him look like a cross between Benjamin Disraeli and Edmund Burke.

It’s not just the kids though: there are plenty of hoary old-timers who have done a dramatic u-turn now that deranged eco-terrorist Prince Charles has become the Almighty’s glorious anointed. Nigel Farage interrupted a busy schedule of day-drinking, wistful self-googling and bashing away on the Daily Mail comment section to give his ever-so-slightly obsequious verdict on the King’s early performance. One can only surmise that a portrait of His Majesty has already replaced his beloved, and perhaps slightly soiled, framed photo of the Queen that he kept on his wall between the Pirelli calendars and his mint-condition collection of Rothmans cigarette cards.

In their various ways, what these characters sum up is the extent to which there is a section of the modern British right that is simply one enormous great throbbing id dressed up as a political ideology. Many of the younger ones take libertarian licence to an extreme of glorious self-parody. Should children be allowed to take crack cocaine? Or perhaps sell their kidneys at auction to a gang of international organ-harvesters in lieu of a school fundraising tombola? “Who are YOU to stop them, Nanny State Nazis?”, opine Darren Harwood and baby Guido.

Environmental politics is a good example. It’s a complex area, and there are good reasons to be sceptical about many specific aspects of the green agenda of the government and activist groups. But it’s hard to shake off the impression that what lies behind the hysterical attacks on the then-Prince Charles’ work to highlight the risks of plummeting biodiversity, climate change, soil erosion and various other forms of environmental degradation is the same sort of emotion that lies behind the toddler who is told that they cannot have their fourth mini-milk: sheer disbelieving outrage than anybody should ever question their right to have whatever they want, whenever they want it and damn the consequences. 

It’s a part of the Right Jacobin mentality that has become a distinctive phenomenon among many contemporary so-called conservatives. They share the abstract rationalising tendency of the French revolutionaries — and indeed most of the modern hard left — to see politics as a mere utilitarian machine designed to smash anything that gets in the way of the fulfilment of their immediate will and pleasure. The slow accretion of tradition as the collected wisdom of the species; the caution embodied in the idea of Chesterton’s fence; the grandeur of our long-standing national institutions: all such ideas are, in substance, so much lily-livered “bed-wetting” flim-flam so far as the San-Culottes of the Home Counties are concerned. They’d have the King in a tumbril tomorrow if they thought it would lead to zero per cent corporation tax and a lot of Albanians drowning in the English channel.

Some faint glimmerings have been summoned up in their souls

Ironically, they reproduce in reverse so many of the assumptions of the hard left. In many cases — Tom Grimes being a good example — they are just Whiggish liberals who take the inevitable progressive course of history as a given, but disagree with the Corbynistas and nose-ringed Tankies as to what form it should take. They simply see the dynamism of the unleashed free market as a better way to the world of materialistic abundance and self-indulgence they crave than “Fully Automated Luxury Communism” or cyber-Stalinism or whatever tedious, nightmarish utopia the hard left are currently peddling. The difference is one of means, not ends: they are all equally lacking in any aesthetic or spiritual sensibility. This is really why they hated the postliberal politics of Charles, a man who values restraint, limits, boundaries, discipline; and understands that we cannot limitlessly abuse the Earth simply because we want endless wasteful profusion. It’s why they cannot truly appreciate the prescriptive wisdom of our customs and traditions.

The problem is, of course, that such Right Jacobins don’t exist in a vacuum. They are an understandable — if wrong-headed and unfortunate — overreaction to the condescension of a liberal-left technocratic mindset that is no better. When genuine debate, reasonable compromises and pragmatic accommodations are made impossible by the breakdown of meaningful democratic politics at the hands of both quasi-totalitarian progressivism and ultra-liberal hubris, one can hardly be surprised that morbid symptoms appear on the right. However intransigent the progressive Brahmins may be and however mad the social justice warriors are, it’s a mistake to respond with a sort of golf club Leninism. 

In a spirit of generosity, let’s be encouraged by the fact that some faint glimmerings of the glories of tradition, duty and sacrifice have been summoned up in their souls by the death of our late Queen and the accession of Charles. It’s never too late to abandon one’s youthful revolutionary errors and embrace the politics of virtue, restraint and the transcendent. God hasn’t abandoned anyone to such errors irrevocably — even Nigel Farage.

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