Friday, September 5, 2008

The Costs of a Living in a Fairy Tale Kingdom

The New York Times doesn't understand why most Swazis still love their king despite their poverty and his wealth. Admittedly Mswati III is a difficult monarch for modern Western monarchists, accustomed to monogamous constitutional sovereigns of countries with high standards of living, to defend. But the people of Swaziland would do well to remember that not once in history has abolishing a monarchy ever ameliorated poverty; in fact, the lot of the poor has usually gotten worse in the wake of such revolutions, often accompanied by greater repression.

While I wish for the sake of the monarchy's long-term future that King Mswati had a more astute sense of public relations, and hope that he and his court will be mindful of what happened in Nepal, I don't think His Majesty needs lectures from the newspaper that covered up the Ukranian famine of the 1930s. And in an era when most of the world's remaining monarchs are forced to constantly kowtow to the restraints of liberal democracy, I have to admit I'm tempted to find it oddly refreshing for a king to refuse to toe the line.

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