By Gregory R. Copley, AM, GCHT*, FRCGS, FSS, FRSN[i]
at the introduction of his new book, Sovereignty in the 21st Century and the Crisis for Identity, Cultures, Nation-States,
The Annual Conference of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy
New South Wales Parliament, Sydney: October 3, 2018
US President Donald Trump, in his second address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2018, made a strenuous case for the doctrine and concept of sovereignty, not just of the US but also as a right for all nation-states.
It is highly significant that few people today even comprehend the concept of sovereignty, and the confused media coverage of his speech reflected that. Sovereignty has been erased from our lexicon of the past seven decades. However, Pres. Trump’s reiteration of the US case was an indication of the global momentum toward sovereignty and against the 70-year or more tide we have witnessed of the erosion of the sovereign rights and duties of nation-states.
This was a vital message to Australia. Despite being swamped by a highly-antagonistic media misinterpretation, the Trump speech continued to highlight the rising global tide favoring the restoration of strong sovereignty for societies, and for the reiteration of their traditional identities, values, and hierarchies. It is important to understand that this is not a “Trump agenda” any more than the Brexit vote in the UK in 2016 was a phenomenon driven by Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage. It is, in fact, a return to an age of geopolitics and an end of the brief age of anti-nationalist globalism.
This tide is a reflection of how societies globally move — and have historically moved, usually in cyclical patterns — to adapt to new threats, opportunities, and realities. What we are witnessing is a natural phenomenon as the global strategic architecture undergoes profound change.
The cyclic moves between globalism and nationalism — often expressed in different words at different times — reflect history’s unrelenting pattern; the pendulum of its grandfather clock. It has kept perfect time for ten-thousand years.
The current move of societies back toward the protection of the familiar identity and association of their clans, hierarchies, and lands, has essentially created a schism between the urban globalists, who wish to retain the anti-sovereignty movement which briefly gained traction since World War II, and those who see the urgent need to rebuild their nation-state frameworks.
It is an appropriate time, then, to ask where Australia would be today, without the enduring presence of the Crown — our most visible icon of sovereignty and unity — in Australian life. The Crown has been with us since the start of our identity as a modern society. It is equally appropriate to ask how Australia could successfully navigate its future without the Crown as we enter an age of profound global strategic transformation.
Most Australians either take the Australian Crown for granted as an enduring, subliminal, and inspirational presence in our lives, or — lacking any detailed education or understanding on the topic — think that the Crown is irrelevant to our currently materialistic and short-focus lifestyles. Most of us, busy with our lives, fail to understand how the core framework of our societies so vitally depends on deeply-ingrained, enduring symbols of identity to deliver the basis for ongoing prosperity, generation after generation.
It is easy to think of the 20th Century as the period which saw the decline of monarchical states around the world, and the rise of republicanism. We tended to think of that process as one which delivered the unprecedented growth in human societies’ numbers, wealth, and health. But the great wealth which enabled the dynamism of the 20th Century was largely brought about by the monarchical states, as well as by the United States.
As an aside, I could argue that the US was also at that time, in much of the 20th Century, a form of monarchy, with its crown — like Australia’s today — very much an abstract and symbolic one. For the US, its “crown” was built around its flag, Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence. And, as with the Emperors after the collapse of the Roman Republic, US Presidents have always had to deny that their state had become a monarchy, like the one they rejected in 1776.
But the United States merely elected its monarch — literally its emperor — every four years and gave their elected president more power than almost any monarch in the world has had over the past few hundred years.
It was the monarchical states which delivered great wealth and accomplishment during the industrial revolution and later. But it was their brief exhaustion which led to a collapse into a century of two world wars, several profound or revolutionary transformations of societies, and the creation of a hundred or more new, artificially contrived nation-states. Most of these new nation-states, however, were not built around the identities of their inhabitants. The colonial agglomerations which they created often gathered peoples into a forced marriage between different historically-rooted societies and into artificial and indefensible borders, and given the names of new nation-states by their colonial overlords.
And so we are starting to reap the whirlwind our ancestors sowed.
Now, the 21st Century promises to be an age of even more profound upheaval. This century will be the counterweight to the 20th Century. It will be that predictable pendulum swing; a natural course correction by human nature. What this means is that there is today a profound tsunami building which will be seen as the rush back toward sovereignty, because societies always make the flight to the safety of their own lands, peoples, and beliefs when massive change threatens them.
And that change we’re seeing is neither merely the strategic rise of the People’s Republic of China, nor the decline of the US; nor even the impact of technology. Of course all these things are important. The massive change is being brought about by the end of the age of growth. The unfettered growth in everything since the end of World War II is now peaking, and we will now see the zig-zagging decline in overall human numbers.
This has already begun to compound as a new strategic phenomenon. Urbanisation and trans-national migration accelerated as a direct result of the loss (or burying) of deep human identity frameworks of so many societies, including our own. For the past seven decades we replaced deep and enduring social values and identity with the promise of immediate material gratification.
The rise of politically-driven social management, which is the hallmark of modern republic-style governance, is characterised by the transactional promises of immediate material gratification in exchange for votes. It was that transformation of the concept of democracy from the social bargain — the social contract — of the past to the immediate material transactionalism of today which gained great traction in the post-World War II era to the detriment of enduring, core societal values and identity.
In the 21st Century, as a corollary to this, we are heading toward a precipitous decline in global human numbers within the coming decade or two, camouflaged by massive population movements from rural to urban, country to country. This is what is leading us to a totally transformed economic framework for most of the world. As a result, we are already beginning to see the signs of alarm, even panic, in many parts of the world.
My organisation, the International Strategic Studies Association, has been studying global strategic trends for almost a half-century, and, in order to focus on the phenomenon we identified — this “rush toward sovereignty” — we created, a couple of years ago the Zahedi Center for the Study of Monarchy, Traditional Governance, and Sovereignty. What we are launching here today is a major study published by the Center, essentially to explain where the world is heading. And it’s heading to an age when sovereignty will again become the most profound motivating force in global human organisation. Despite this, hardly anyone has stopped, this past century or so, to think what sovereignty means, or exactly what forms of governance and organisation are available to us. Still less do people understand what constitutes a monarchy or a republic. Neither do they grasp the intrinsic relationship of sovereignty to democracy.
The new book we are launching here today, Sovereignty in the 21st Century and the Crisis for Identity, Cultures, Nation-States, and Civilizations, not only addresses that, but I hope it also addresses the intrinsic links between the essential driving or motivating elements of human societies. It attempts to explain why enduring forms of natural human hierarchy will continue to guide us into the future.
Let me add that the collapse of many monarchies in the 20th Century was the precursor of today’s global framework.
It led us to a global strategic framework which was inherently fragile. Think how the collapse of monarchies shaped our current world. That is not to say that some countries with monarchies did not make errors of judgment, or that some were tired and in need of restructuring. But the net outcome was that the destruction of the immature German monarchy as a result of the German defeat in World War I led to the rise of nazism. That in itself began the bipolarization of the world into two camps, each led by strongly anti-monarchical governments: the Soviets — created or enabled by World War I — and the US.
The collapse of the Italian monarchy with World War II was also a key design of Stalin as well as, perhaps unconsciously or viscerally, of the US. And as that was happening, my late colleague, the great strategic philosopher Dr Stefan Possony, saw that a perpetuation of this trend would lead to disastrous consequences if it was allowed to continue and be applied to the Empire of Japan. We had already seen the chaos which had been caused by the collapse of the Chinese Imperial state in 1911.
It was Possony’s strenuous advice which caused US Pres. Harry Truman, and General Douglas MacArthur, to agree that the Japanese Imperial Crown should be sustained after the Japanese defeat. The result was that Japan retained its dignity and sense of historical self, and did not fall under Soviet influence, as Stalin sought desperately to achieve. This was the great setback for the USSR to the point that Moscow never agreed to the end of the war with Japan. And post-Soviet Russia still has not been able to fully resolve this situation because of the divergent geopolitical interests which arose from the Soviet occupation of the Kuril Islands north of Japan.
Had Stalin succeeded in turning Japan into a communist, or even leftist republic, then the results would have been profoundly tragic for the world because it would have compounded the effects of the massive Japanese assaults on China, Korea, and Mongolia during the 1930s and through World War II. That gave us a half century of communism in China and North Korea.
So think about the impact on Australia if nazism had never flourished in Germany, or if fascism in Italy had not eroded the moral authority of the Italian Crown. Think about how different the world would have been if Japan had not helped destroy the Chinese imperial crown in the late 19th and 20th centuries. And then think about the prospects if Japan had been allowed to fall into a Soviet-led republicanism with the end of World War II.
World War I caused a social dislocation in Russia, leading to an urban-globalist (read utopian marxist) putsch — not a revolution — which curtailed what was then the most rapidly-growing economy in Europe. That had almost as much global impact in dislocating societies as did the later spread of Western wealth. Perhaps more: we see today urban populations, disconnected from everything except short-term materialism, echoing the same utopianist demands made by the bolsheviks of 1917. Republicanism, as the book explains, tends to be more materialistic, transactional, and short-term than deeply-rooted traditional society.
We saw the 1911 Xinhai revolution in China led by Sun Yat-sen not only euthanize an already disconnected Qing Imperial dynasty; it opened the country to civil war, facilitating what began as an opportunistic new set of Japanese incursions beginning in 1931. But because of the civil war, China could not adequately respond to increasingly rapacious Japanese assaults on the country. It was no surprise that the Chinese communist forces under Mao Zedong left most of the fighting against the invading Japanese to the Nationalists, under Chiang Kai-shek, ultimately leaving the Nationalists weakened and easy prey for the communists. Similarly, in Yugoslavia, the communist partisans under Josip Broz Tito left the real fighting against the invading German forces to the monarchist Četniks under the great General “Draža” Mihailović, whose forces were so weakened by 1945 that the partisans ensured that the Yugoslav Crown did not regain office.
Again, I do not say that monarchies, even in the most democratic of societies, necessarily always sway history along lines beneficial to all. But what is clear is that the primary duties of sovereignty — and therefore of the sovereign and the sovereign’s government — must be to the security and welfare of that sovereign’s own kingdom or empire, not to others. The monarchies of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Japan, and Russia imposed their power over the past 200 or so years on societies in Africa, the Middle East, the Americas, and Asia, and thereby subjugated the identity and sovereignty of others. This had many negative consequences for the subject peoples. But the republican governments of the Soviet Union, the United States, and so on, equally practiced imperial dominance and suzerain manipulation on smaller states.
What is important now, though, is to recognise that both republics and monarchical states prosper most when they consider the sovereign prestige of their own societies. But it is most evident, however, that republican societies tend to be driven by more short-term and material tangibles, while monarchical societies tend to be driven more by deep, enduring core identity.
There is no doubt that urban materialism has, by prospering so dramatically in the seven decades since World War II, driven feelings of core identity into the deep recesses of the minds of most people. This has very much been a factor in Australia, and in most of the great industrial societies, where urban populations have come to dominate political life. The world’s population is now 54 percent urbanized. By 2017, 89.68 percent of Australia’s population lived in urban settings.
The bottom line is that urban people, while their wealth continues to grow, do not need to think about sovereignty and about the intrinsic link which all species have with their land: their geographical context; their geopolitics. But when that wealth begins to evaporate, and threats emerge, then people once again begin to think about how they may return to the safety of their clans and lands.
Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, invoked the word “sovereignty” 19 times in his inaugural speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 19, 2017. His theme was the reclamation of US sovereignty, and he showed absolute commitment to that theme when he spoke again at the UN on September 25, 2018. Donald Trump’s predecessor, Pres. Barack Obama, the 44th President, in his final speech to the UN General Assembly on September 20, 2016, devoted the entirety of his talk, in contradistinction, to stressing the need for globalism, and for a repudiation of sovereignty.
Nothing could have contrasted the fundamental difference between those successive US leaders more profoundly, nor the different ages they represented. Yet the importance of these stark, mutually hostile views of where the US and the world should travel went unremarked by the urban media.
When I say that these diverging views represented different ages, it is important to note that the revival and assertion of the need for sovereignty is very much the new age; the age of our immediate future. The age of globalism — anti-sovereignty — is the age of our immediate past. Whether we like it or not.
That is not to say that the age of globalism will not come again; it will. All patterns of human social behavior are cyclical. But right now, we are moving to an age in which many human societies demand a reinforcement of sovereignty. This is because a reversion to social identity — based around history and geography — is a normal reaction to chaos, uncertainty, and threat.
Most Australians feel only the most vague stirrings of a perception of a threat to their way of life. They, like most urban people in wealthy societies, keep thinking that they need only to hold the line, and insist that their entitlements be sustained, to weather what they believe to be a temporary storm.
It is not a temporary storm. The world is changing. The world is moving back to a new — or old — set of national identities. Australia’s strategic context is changing as a result. Our economy will change. It already has, just since the last recession began in the PRC. But the emerging global strategic context is by no means fixed in concrete, other than the reality of that jagged pattern of declining population levels and continued mass population movements, in turn transforming economic patterns.
Certainly, there is and will be an increasing rush toward nationalism; toward identity-driven divisions and schisms in societies. This means greater bilateralism of trade, and so on. There is no certainty as to the futures of the current great powers. The PRC has its problems, as has the US. So, of course, does the European Union. But within this pattern we see how poorly Australia itself has fared in recent decades compared with its immediate region.
And Australia’s relative economic position seems set, unless it reverts to a cohesive national identity, to continue to erode in comparison to its neighbors. This is particularly the case with India, Australia’s main rival for influence in the Indian Ocean and South-East Asian region, where we are witnessing a reversal of the trajectory of the past century.
In 1978, Australia’s GDP was US$118.309-billion, India’s $136.469-billion (only 15 percent more than Australia’s). By 2016, Australia’s GDP was $1.205-trillion; India’s was $2.264-trillion (almost double Australia’s).
In 1978, Indonesia’s GDP was about 43 percent of Australia’s. By 2016, it was more than 77 percent of Australia’s.
The People’s Republic of China’s GDP in 1978 was $218.5-billion (176 percent of Australia’s), but in 2016 it was $11.191-trillion (some 930 percent greater than Australia’s).
What was Australia’s national identity in that period when it was able to so readily perform above the global average? Some of it, of course, reflected a less productive global context. But Australian productivity was centered around its identity as a cohesive society based on assimilating peoples into a culture which had common themes of communication — including language — and a common respect for its hierarchy as a constitutional monarchy. It had, in short, a sense that it was a sovereign nation-state, and that it had a common identity, even if it found it difficult to articulate that identity.
That is not to say that we did not have much work to do to preserve, protect, and respect the place of Australia’s constituent societies. We failed, for example, to fully understand Australia’s original communities in part because they themselves were unable to express their own identities in ways which permitted their preservation, a problem compounded by the reality that they had not developed a geopolitical concept of their own. Today, all Australian communities should be better able to articulate their rôles in a greater or overarching continental polity, if we choose even to discuss sovereignty.
But we have to begin with the premise that sovereignty and prestige are integrally related. As Stefan Possony said: “Prestige is the credit rating of nations.”
Of course there is much more to this discussion as to where Australia is going, and where the world is going, and why. However, what is clear is that if Australia is to survive as a sovereign nation-state with its values, language, and over-arching identity intact, then it has no better organisational model than that which centres around its Crown.
Do we have to continue to Australianise our Crown? Almost certainly. I made several proposals about how to achieve that in Australia 2050, the study I led in 2007. But at that time we were all too content in our wealth and the unshakeable belief that this time, for the first time in all human history, our economic boom would last forever.
Nothing lasts forever except the possibility of our identity, and it is that which we have neglected so badly.
[i] Gregory Copley is an Australian, and is the President of the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA), based in Washington, DC. In 2016, he founded, within ISSA, the Zahedi Center for the Study of Monarchy, Traditional Governance, and Sovereignty, which published his latest book, Sovereignty in the 21st Century and the Crisis for Identity, Cultures, Nation-States, and Civilizations. Mr Copley serves as an adviser on strategic issues to a number of governments and leaders. He has also helped found a number of other nationally-based strategic studies institutes in various countries, including Australia.
He has authored or co-authored 35 books on strategic and geopolitical issues, history, energy, aviation, and defence; the latest being Sovereignty in the 21st Century in 2018. Two other books by Copley were in the same genre: The Art of Victory (2006: Simon & Schuster, New York), and UnCivilization: Urban Geopolitics in a Time of Chaos (2012: the International Strategic Studies Association. Washington, DC). Other recent books include: Rise of the RedMed: How the Mediterranean-Red Sea Nexus is Resuming its Strategic Centrality, and Pakistan’s Metamorphosis: The Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook on Pakistan (with Purvis Hussain). He is Editor-in-Chief of Defense & Foreign Affairs publications, and the Director of Intelligence at the Global Information System (GIS), an online encrypted-access, global intelligence service which provides strategic current intelligence solely to governments. He drafted the grand strategy framework document for Australia, called Australia 2050, in 2007, and another grand strategy book, The Art of Victory, in 2006. He authored and edited the encyclopædia, The Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook, from 1976 until the present time, taking it from a 2,500 page print book to an even bigger online publication in recent years.
He has received a significant number of orders and decorations from governments, including, in 2007, being made a Member of the Order of Australia for his contributions to the international community in the field of strategic analysis. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society in 2011, and was awarded the Society’s Erebus Medal in 2015. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Canadian Forces College Foundation.
Mr Copley also has had an extensive career as an industrialist, owning several shipyards and engineering companies in the United Kingdom, a naval architectural firm, and a chemical company in France. Among his other activities, he founded Argonaut LLC, a company exploring — and delivering — remote area, mobile energy and water purification solutions. He served as Vice-Chairman of the Scottish national airline, Highland Express.