Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tradition Abandoned in Sark

The small Channel Island of Sark, under the Crown but not part of the United Kingdom, seems in many ways to be a sort of idyllic traditionalist paradise: no cars are allowed on the island, and the population of 600 "are a self-sufficient, close-knit little community" who "just like to get on with life away from the public eye," according to Seneschal Lt Col Reginald Guille. Since the time of Queen Elizabeth I, the island has been governed primarily by the descendants of the original landlords, in Europe's last surviving feudal system. But the endless march of "democracy" can never leave well enough alone: after years of pressure from the European Union, the UK Privy Council confirmed Sark's plans to abolish the 450-year-old system in favor of a fully elected government. Eight years ago I wrote an article entitled "Why Monarchists Should Oppose the Euro," and nothing in this sorry episode makes me change my mind.

What is notably missing from all the coverage is any evidence whatsoever that the traditional arrangements were truly unsatisfactory to the people living on the island, or that Sark had been poorly governed. What Sark has agreed to is "democracy" for the sake of "democracy," "progress" for the sake of "progress," and no other reason. It is even admitted that "the system of government has proven for our small community to be a very successful way to manage our own affairs." Only recently the islanders affirmed that no change was wanted. But relentless foreign pressure has at last triumphed over local inertia, and now it is time to "move on." For "successful" management of community affairs doesn't matter; the EU "Human Rights" agenda must be enacted across the continent, and not even a tiny island normally unnoticed is exempt. So Sark will join the Brave New World of Democracy, probably eventually losing much of what made it unique and appealing, as traditions are eradicated and subsidiarity destroyed by Europe's new tyrants, far more power-hungry than any king of old. Life will continue on Sark, but something intangible and priceless will have been lost: a sense that no matter what insanity gripped the wider world, this tiny little island had preserved a link to medieval Europe's ancient feudal order, to a time when Europeans accepted that social hierarchies are natural, inevitable, and beneficial, and worshipped something other than Democracy and Equality.

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