[ by Charles Cameron -- a pub in Wiltshire, Abu Aardvark, monarchical survival in the Middle East, Kanye West, C Peter Wagner, spiritual warfare, diabolic possession, Amaterasu ]
It looks to me as though Abu Aardvark aka Marc Lynch — associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and one of the prime go-to blogger on matters Middle Eastern — first mentioned monarchy on his FP blog in December of last year, writing:
Finally, there’s a widespread sense that the Gulf monarchies have proven more resilient than their non-monarchical Arab counterparts. The wealthy Gulf states seem relatively immune to the popular mobilizations which have challenged most of the other regimes in the region. Advocates of the Gulf exceptionalism stance point to small citizen populations, huge government employment and patronage opportunities, and monarchical legitimacy as buffers against popular outrage.
In June of this year, he picked up the thread, saying:
Explaining this variation in regime survival and which strategies and structures proved more effective in the face of popular challenge will likely be a major preoccupation of the field in the coming years.
One common answer has been particularly contentious among academics: monarchy. Is there a monarchical exception, or some reason to believe that monarchies are more resilient in the face of popular grievances? For some, the answer is obvious: none of the fallen regimes were monarchies, while non-monarchies have struggled or fallen at historic rates. As Michael Herb argues,“the regimes most seriously affected by the Arab Spring were not monarchies, with the exception of Bahrain.” But others are far more skeptical that monarchy makes the difference. After all, Gulf monarchies such as Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman all experienced significant mobilization, as did non-oil monarchies such as Jordan and Morocco, which gives lie to any sense of their greater innate legitimacy. Other factors such as oil wealth, ethnic polarization or external support may be more important than monarchy as such. The significance of monarchy in regime stability should be a vibrant debate in academic journals in the coming years.
And then yesterday his entire post was titled Does Arab monarchy matter?, in which he says:
The advantages of monarchy have taken on the feel of “common sense” among the public and in academic debates. But I remain highly skeptical about the more ambitious arguments for a monarchical exception. Access to vast wealth and useful international allies seems a more plausible explanation for the resilience of most of the Arab monarchies.
and throws in for good measure a delightful reworking of a line from (apparently) Kanye West:
To paraphrase one of our great living philosopher kings, the Arab monarchies may be forced to choose among three dreams: the Saudi King’s, Dr. King’s and Rodney King’s.
I do want to suggest to Abu Aardvark that ideas like the divine right of kings [link is to James I] never quite fade away, that there is a deep thirst for the mandate of heaven [Shu Jing], that there may in short be a quasi-sacramental force to the issue.
I don’t think that this guarantees the continuation of monarchical lineages, in the Middle East, the UK, China or elsewhere — but it may favor them, other things being equal.
But okay. I said some months back that I hoped to tackle the issue of monarchism in a post at some point, and I’m still eager to disagree with the Christian evangelist C Peter Wagner, who can be seen on YouTube saying:
There is a spirit called a Harlot, a principality, who dominates nations, who dominates territories, who dominates people groups very, very clearly to such an extent that she has fornication with kings. And I can give you an example of how she does this: Japan, as a nation, is one of the nation’s of the world which has consciously, openly invited national demonization.
The Sun Goddess visits him in person and has sexual intercourse with the Emperor. It’s a very, very powerful thing. So the Emperor becomes one flesh with the Sun Goddess and that’s an invitation for the Sun Goddess to continue to demonize the whole nation.
Since the night that the present emperor slept with the Sun Goddess, the stock market in Japan has gone down. It’s never come up since.
I’m serious about this. I’ve been out and bought myself a copy of DC Holtom‘s The Japanese Enthronement Ceremonies — Sophia ed, 1972, what a gorgeous book! — and downloaded a number of learned papers on the topic by Felicia Bock, Carmen Blacker, and Adrian Mayer. Japanese court ceremonial is not exactly an easy study — but time permitting, I should be able to bring you something a little more subtle than Wagner’s demponically-challenged interpretation one of these days.