Thoughts on the World Cup

Cephalopods aside, I think the most important fact about the 2010 World Cup is that it was the first in which both finalists were teams from monarchies – and that after a run of seven finals in a row between two republic teams.

His Majesty King Juan Carlos becomes the third monarch to reign over world cup winners, following Victor Emmanuel III of Italy (1934 and 1938) and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (1966).

Monarchies have lost to republics in 3 finals, Sweden to Brazil in 1958, and The Netherlands to West Germany in 1974 and to Argentina in 1978. So Her Majesty Queen Beatrix joins Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden, and her mother Queen Juliana as monarchs of world cup runners-up.

What does this break in the trend signify? Possibly a resurgence of Europe relative to monarchyless South America, but that doesn’t cover the poor showing of France and Italy.

Other factoids arising from Victor Emmanuel III and fascism: Mussolini was deposed by Victor Emmanuel in a proper constitutional manner in 1943, and German President Paul von Hinderburg’s will is believed to have expressed a desire for Germany to return to a monarchy. (The History Place says he did, Wikipedia says it’s disputed).

It is the received wisdom that in 1933-34, Hitler’s oratory was so supernaturally spooky that he convinced the German people even to abandon democracy to put him in power. It seems more likely that by then democracy had failed so badly that any alternative looked like a good idea. But that’s not the stuff to give the troops.

On Holiday

I’m on holiday, and have been for a couple of weeks, which has taken my mind off matters political and philosophical. But I’ll be back at work within the week, and in the meantime my distraction has been broken by anticipation of what will be my first July 4th in the United States.

The argument of my previous post leads me to see the patriotism of my hosts as a human virtue, and ordinary good manners demands that I not treat the event as an opportunity to demonstrate the faults of republican government in general and that of the United States of America in particular.

I therefore aim to concentrate my attention on the American People, who have achieved so much in spite of unwisely lumbering themselves with such an inferior form of government – one which brings such predictable and immediate tragedy when attempted by peoples less endowed with individual and collective virtues, of solidarity, initiative, generosity and even, when using a realistic standard of comparison, intelligence. The American People is almost uniquely qualified to overcome the handicap of democracy and to maintain a society that, while visibly decaying, remains the envy of much of the world. Just imagine what they could have done these last two centuries with a decent monarchy!

I can often be accused of gratuitous contrarianism, and while globally the American form of government is more admired than Americans themselves, my tastes have always run otherwise.