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The Militant, 7 February 1942

M. Stein

The Court Clown

Some Reflections on Royalty and the War

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 6, 7 February 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


There was a time when all serious literature revolved around the royalty of the day. The crowned heads supplied the heroic characters for drama and tragedy. The plain folk were used only as characters for comedy. This was also the time of the court clown – the man who supplied the comic relief in the most tragic situations, who always managed to get a laugh by saying the wrong thing at the right time.

Today, however, while humanity is being bled white for the second time in our generation, the plain folk supply the elements of heroism and tragedy. The crowned heads on the other hand have assumed the role of court clown and supply whatever comic relief there is.

Crowned Heads of Both Camps

To prove the point let us make a brief survey of the fate of some of the crowned heads, demonstrating our impartiality by looking at both the camp of the Axis and the camp of the “United Nations.”

Hirohito of Japan has an advantage over all the rest of them. He is not only emperor, but also the son of God. But although he is thus truly omnipotent, this advantage can quickly turn into its opposite at a future stage of the war when the Chinese soldiers will deliver even stiffer blows against his heavenly work than heretofore. When the Son of God cannot prevail over an “inferior” nation that has no God Emperor to guide it, there certainly will be cause for seditious thinking and agnostic conclusions.

Then there is Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy. After Ethiopia was overrun by Mussolini’s blackshirted legions, he was proclaimed emperor with great fanfare and much trumpet-blowing. King Victor Emmanuel is diminutive in stature. In all ceremonial parades and in every other way he is overshadowed by Mussolini. His blue blood no doubt rushes to his face with a feeling of deep shame every time he thinks of himself as emperor now that he has lost his empire. Of course this feeling of shame is not unmingled with fear, the fear of a gambler who has experienced a change of luck and who cannot pull out of the game.

Outstanding on the Allied side is His Imperial Majesty, George VI, sovereign over a quarter of mankind, who has retained his privileges as a monarch without its powers. He has watched the resources of the Empire shrink from month to month in this costly war, as bases are traded for old destroyers, and he has seen the center of gravity shift to the new world, and the Soviet Union and China. He has heard members of his Parliament speak up and voice their fears “that the British Isles eventually might become merely an American outpost in Europe” or “a western outpost of totalitarian Europe.” Who knows what George would say today, if he could afford himself the luxury of speaking out loud and telling how it feels to be king over an empire that is on the rocks? For, without the Empire, the King becomes a “luxury” that, Britain will no longer be able to afford.

The Royal Racketeer

We will skip going into detail about the humiliation of King Leopold of Belgium who is a prisoner of Hitler; or of King Haakon of Norway who is trying to. assure a continuation of his dynasty by building an army on British soil out of recruits the British manage to snatch in their spectacular but not very fruitful raids on isolated Norwegian islands; or of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands who manages to get her name into the papers by visits to the White House when the calendar is not too crowded.

We wish to confine the balance of our remarks to the supreme king-clown of them all, Carol, exiled monarch of the unfortunate Rumanian people.

Prior to the war, Carol was reputed to be one of the richest men in Europe in one of the poorest countries in Europe. He attained this distinction by the most ruthless exploitation of his people. He had a hand in all the more profitable business enterprises in the country, and he exacted tribute from those he did not control outright. In short, he was a racketeer on a royal scale.

He was so thoroughly hated by his people that even Hitler was unable to use him and preferred to place Carol’s son, Michael, on the throne as a puppet monarch. Carol was permitted to flee the country, and subsequently after a prearranged comic-opera escape over the Spanish-Portuguese border, he finally landed in Mexico to settle down with his mistress and chamberlain. Hitler saved Carol’s life from the angry Rumanian masses, but, ingrate that he is, Carol has again reappeared in the public prints ... where he poses as a victim of Hitlerite aggression.

The Declaration of “United Nations” was signed in Washington early last month, with the adherence of 26 governments and governments-in-exile. It was to serve as a bombshell exploded in the face of the Axis, and as pressure as well on those Latin-American countries who are not exactly toeing the mark. Everything was working per schedule when Carol jumped out of his Mexican obscurity and shouted, “Me too, I want to be in on the cut.”

Denying he has ever abdicated his throne and stating he was thinking of declaring himself regent and prime minister of Rumania, Carol, in his modest but royal way, insists on adhering to the “United Nations” pact and thus joining the “war for democracy.”

Carol’s act was a little embarrassing, and his pledge of adherence may not be accepted. For it revealed how many parasites of all calibres there are, plotting to return to their former places on the bleeding body of Europe just as soon as the super-parasite Hitler is removed; and there are others who had already signed the Declaration who felt it might attract too much attention to their own status if they let Carol in on it too.

But they arc all making their calculations prematurely. Once the suffering masses of Europe get rid of Nazi oppression and terror, they will not want the Carols to come back and rule over them. Instead they will fight on toward a social order where there will be no room for the Carols, whether they be kings or commoners.

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