This is Britain: “Panem et circenses”

There is a country in Europe

The country is Britain. Or as it pompously calls itself “the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.

Well, “stuff happens” one could say. Not all countries can be perfect, not all countries can do well, not all countries can be liberal democracies. But the real question is: what do the people do against this bleak situation? Do they revolt? Do they protest? Do they engage in a civil debate about important issues? Do they try to change their situation? No, no and no.

Why not? Because the dictator monarch throws a big party, gives people a few days off and because the country will have a sports festival for 2 weeks in summer.

“Flags are more important than jobs.”

“Equality is for wimps.”

“Panem et circenses” still works.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
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14 Responses to This is Britain: “Panem et circenses”

  1. Murray says:

    I agree with everything you say. But if you think the USA is any better (apart from its lack of a monarch) then you’re dreaming.

    • True, I could probably write something similar about many countries. Britain is at the receiving end of most of my criticism because I currently live here.

  2. Robert Spiegel says:

    Ouch! Couldn’t you subject any country to the same or similar critique? Today in the U.S. I am hearing pro-unionists, who are appalled that Scott Walker survived his recall election, saying that the democratic America they knew no longer exists. No queen here, I admit.

  3. John Erickson says:

    Hey, drop the references to the monarch, and you pretty much DO have the US. Though I could argue that the monarchy in England is pretty toothless – Parliament, and the House Of Commons in particular, are far more responsible for the economic mess than the Queen.
    Though I can’t help but wonder if the money shelled out for all the Royals might not be able to help cut those college tuitions, or maybe add a few more ships to an already over-stretched and over-aged Navy. (Sorry, I’m a strong supporter of Defence spending, more so than my support for the Queen. And the 3rd generation. If Prince Charles and his wife just vanished, I think the world would be a happier place. I sure as heck would be!)
    Oh, and if you think British media is hopeless, watch the muck we put out. CNN is on par with some college radio stations, MSNBC and Fox are so partisan it’s ridiculous, and the three networks (CBS, NBC, and ABC – no relation to the Australians) barely manage to cover 2 or 3 “big” stories per day.
    More and more, I turn to Europe for the news. And, strangely enough, the Buenos Aires Herald. How a 3rd rate paper in a 2nd rate country can produce 1st class news is bizarre, but I stand by them for breaking news.They are truly outstanding!

  4. cjcj says:

    I think you need to look up the meanings of “dictator” and “ruled”!

  5. You must realize that you’re taking facts way out of context for the sake of an article based on nothing more than shock value, rather like the gutter press you deride.

  6. Tyler says:

    “Why not? Because the dictator monarch throws a big party, gives people a few days off and because the country will have a sports festival for 2 weeks in summer.”

    Truly you are an idiot. The Monarch is the head of state, doesn’t rule the country, and therefore it’s pretty hard for her to be a dictator.

    The UK is a democracy, and is ruled from parliament. If you, as a lawyer, don’t understand that, then I’d suggest the degree certificate you have is simply not worth the paper it’s printed on.

    • You mean compared to the paper the British constitution is printed on? Oh wait, there is no constitution!
      That fact alone makes it rather dangerous to have one person who wields supreme power. The Queen claims and makes use of her right to appoint Prime Ministers, to dissolve Parliament and many other royal prerogatives.

      There are two good alternatives: the UK could either opt for an elected head of state (the Queen could run for this office and Britons could express how much they really want her) or the function of the head of state could be combined with another (elected) office, as it is done in the United States.

    • improbable says:

      Ahem, there is most certainly a constitution. The use of this word to refer to a written record is a later development. The meaning of “Monarch” is also something you should not assume has the same meaning as in all other places and times.

      There are many things to be unhappy about in how every country runs, of course. But as a lawyer you can do a much better job of first bothering to understanding how this system works. It’s a little harder to figure out than many places on the continent… but of course it’s not surprising that systems re-designed from scratch within living memory should be simpler. (There are however certain costs to living through such a re-design.)

  7. Pingback: Moving to Lithuania | The Happy Hermit

  8. Janus says:

    I’d like to hear more about England. I’m trying to understand it (really! I’m studying a movie by Robert Altman called “Gosford Park”).

  9. Daniel says:

    You seem to major on the lack of a written consitution, but Germany had a new one in 1919 as I recall and it didn’t seem to do much good, did it?

    • True, the mere existence of a written constitution does not solve anything. That’s why the UK is still in better shape than many other countries with constitutions.

      But also, 2012 is not 1919. Nowhere.

      And the lack of a clear constitution with distinct and separate powers and clearly set out processes to govern permeates through the whole legal system. In many cases, nobody can say for sure what is “right” and listening to lawyers speaking sounds more like listening to intelligent guesses.

      Let’s just take the case of Scottish independence. Nobody really knows if a referendum is necessary, where it will be held, who will decide the question, who will be eligible to vote, if it will be binding and so on.
      In countries with a written constitution, major questions like these have already been thought of when the country was founded (or when the constitution was last amended), providing some grounding for long-term planning.

      Of course, I concede that a written constitution can still be done in a sloppy way and could therefore turn out to be less useful.

    • Daniel says:

      Well many clever people (am not one of them!) have argued that the absence of a written constitution has proved to be advantageous, in allowing gradual evolutionary change over rather a long time (not counting the revolution of 1649). We seem to manage ok, and as the saying goes ‘if it ain’t broke, dont fix it’.

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