Pretty prophetic isn't it? Talk about a slogan for our times - which nation can actually claim home rule will be a reality in a future filled with increased globalism, cosmopolitanism, multilateralism, economic interdependence and international governance? The British Empire was a prototype for world government, which was not necessarily a bad thing when government of the day - compared to now - was a starkly limited affair. Sure the Grand Home Fleet was huge and officialdom was stretched-thin everywhere, but men and women wherever they far flunged themselves were largely on their own and mostly survived according to their own devices.
The original "No Home Rule" was always a difficult sale, especially at the peak of Empire when Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were winning home rule for themselves in leaps and bounds, albeit under the welcome guise of British and Imperial solidarity. It's tough not to give in to Paddy, John Bull, Sandy and Taffy, at precisely the time when Mick, Johnny Canuck and Uncle Sam are flaunting their independence. Our British masters saw full national independence and self determination as counterproductive to the wider collective goals; by the time it became a fait accompli they were too late in successfully encompassing all British nations under a broader constitutional framework, and could not afford big singular centralising government to keep it altogether.
Big Imperial Government controlled and commanded from London would never have worked in the long run. We may all be fantastically similar countries, but our national perceptions and self interests were different enough to still require maximum freedom of movement. Only a grand federation of the loosest kind would have been remotely plausible, one that would effectively cede all authority to national governments except perhaps in customs and trade. Defence and foreign affairs could be cooperative arrangements, but even these would have required a large measure of local control. The monarchy would most definitely be centralised, but princes would be required to live year-round in the realms in order to promote just the right amount of loyalty, solidarity, patriotism and common purpose to keep it all sufficiently united. They did this for a while (remember the grand old Duke of Connaught?), but of course, having achieved home rule for ourselves, we have since never asked and they never offered. Loyalty dwindled, patriotism cheapened.
The incredible cheapening of patriotism we see today has somehow managed to reduce basic love of country (which requires a not so profound understanding of one's native identity) into a corporate branding exercise, where people paint their faces and party hardy. As far as brands go, Canada has an excellent one, very distinct and instantly recognisable, which will be on full display at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Naturally, the "British Queen" will not be there to officially open up the Games, since Her Majesty might place a different - even contradictory - image on Canada's obviously very cool - much cooler than Toyota - brand. The patriotism of yore has been replaced with the barely skin deep pride of place we have today.
No Home Rule sounds like a slogan that would put a smile on the face of any modern Eurocrat, who is busy taking over the fisheries and everything else by way of a thousand directives. Brussels is trying to get away with the impossible, and is succeeding where Britain failed because we live on an increasingly post-national, post-patriotic planet. Who really cares about home rule anymore when people are more concerned with accumulating their frequent flyer points? Where is home anyway? - New York, London, Paris, Stockholm, Zurich, Vancouver, Christchurch, Sydney...or is it all of the above, wherever it is I happen to be? Have we've gone all cosmopolitan all the time?
And where is the room for home rule when the buzz is all about global rule and global summits? Copenhagen, eat your heart out. 200 nations and at least as many limousines talking about controlling the environment. The environment is about as local as you can get, the very grass we walk on and the very air we breathe. Yet we give in to the global technocrat and actually talk about trading the clean air we breathe in return for pollution credits from China. The jolly green giant will not fade silently into the night.
The roles have reversed too. No Home Rule is now a left-leaning goal, and no longer a right-leaning one. The political stripe of individuals who were once the enemies of Empire, yet bask in the possibilities of world governance is one of those intuition defying paradoxes. The cosmopolitan elite who promote modern globalism are the same people who constantly remind us that conservatism is cold doctrine. But if you walk down a big urban street past the corner Starbucks, you will never hear a friendly hello or a cheery good morning, the cappuccino swillers are in fact a quite distant, self-interested and individualistic lot. For warm community you have to go rural, where all the so-called "Red Necks" live, where the guys and gals keep voting "Tory". Conservatives are warm people alright, they just like their politics cold, they only want to put the freeze on government. People put the freeze on politics a long time ago, they just haven't done much about the growth of government. That will happen soon enough, if for no other reason than the fact that governments around the world are literally bankrupting themselves.
No Home Rule is the seemingly unstoppable wave of the future. The decline of politics and patriotism, the urbanisation of civilisation, the blurring of national borders, the emergence of a technology savvy, interconnected transnational network of people all coming together of whatever ethnic background and all speaking the same language, that will not go away. I will not relinquish my armorial bearing passport for an international document that shows children holding hands under a rainbow, but I won't be around forever either. So to the monarchy doomers and the protagonists of republican inevitability, I say it is time for you to be relevant again. You need to focus on the more important and fundamental issue facing all of us: not the end of the monarchy, but the end of the nation-state.