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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 13, 2006 / 20 Elul, 5766

Long Live Royal Bloodlines!

By Niall Ferguson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Heredity matters. All 109,000 of the baby boys born last Wednesday (yes, that's roughly how many are born every day in the world) inherited a Y chromosome from their fathers. All inherited a combination of genes from both parents, and these genes will help determine everything from the color of their hair to their aptitude at mathematics. An unlucky few will have inherited some hereditary defect or disease. By contrast, a lucky few will inherit fortunes.


But only one of these baby boys stands to inherit an imperial title and throne — the Chrysanthemum Throne, no less. He is the son who was born Sept. 6 to Japan's Princess Kiko, wife of the reigning Emperor Akihito's second son, Crown Prince Akishino. Should the baby's uncle, Crown Prince Naruhito, die without a male heir — as seems probable because he only has a daughter and his wife recently suffered a nervous breakdown — then this little lad will one day be the emperor of Japan.


To Americans, it all seems absurd. What could be sillier than to permanently confer a title like "emperor" on the members of a single family — and only the males at that. (The fact that the baby was a boy allows the Japanese government to shelve a bill that would have permitted female succession.)


And yet the Japanese are hardly unique in having a hereditary monarchy. The British have been doing it for more than a millennium, since the time of Egbert (802-839). There are 45 states in the world with monarchs as heads of state.


In some cases, such as Saudi Arabia, the king is a true sovereign; indeed, he and other monarchs of the Persian Gulf region are all but absolute rulers. In other cases, constitutional conventions have eroded the monarch's power — though one consequence of this political diminution has been to preserve Queen Elizabeth II's status as head of state in a remarkably extensive group of 16 former colonies. Nor is monarchy merely an idiosyncrasy of Arabs and Britons. The European Union likes to present itself as the last word in constitutional postmodernity. And yet six of its members (besides Britain) are monarchies: Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.


The great puzzle is why all these countries have clung to a political institution that, to its detractors, seems hopelessly anachronistic. Edmund Burke's answer — in his "Reflections on the Revolution in France" — was that the hereditary principle had one advantage over popular election: namely, that monarchs ought to be more mindful of the interests of future generations (if only their own descendants) than elected heads of state, whose time horizon may be as short as four years. As Burke put it, turning Jean-Jacques Rousseau on his head, the real social contract is not a short-term deal between a ruler and "the popular will" but an enduring partnership with generations to come.


People may mock Prince Charles for his passionate commitment to environmental and architectural conservation. They fail to see that he is mindful of precisely that Burkean partnership with the distant future.


Not convinced? There's another argument. Consider the remarkable smoothness with which the British crown has passed from monarch to heir throughout the period since 1688. Despite the inevitable duds that arise in any hereditary system — the ones who die childless, or marry unwisely, or are too thick, or too clever by half — the history of modern British monarchy has been one of near-seamless transition.


Now compare the way in which the elected office of prime minister has changed hands in the same interval. As I write, we are somewhere in the middle of round 92 of the most wearisome heavyweight contest in the history of British politics. The fading champion, Tony Blair, is out on his feet, but the challenger, Gordon Brown, seems almost as punch-drunk. They cling to each other in the middle of the ring, alternately propping one another up and landing the occasional feeble punch. If the challenger were any good, it all would have been over long ago. Worse, the ringside is crowded with would-be contenders, eager to turn the fight into a free-for-all.


Of course, I do not say that succession crises do not also occur in monarchical systems: think only of Henry VI, deposed and imprisoned by his cousin Edward IV. When the stakes are high — whether in an absolute monarchy or an elective dictatorship — the likelihood of ugly scenes also will be high. Nevertheless, I would hypothesize that, taking all the world's polities over the last 100 years, the republics have, on average, witnessed more succession crises than the monarchies.


For the reality is that the United States remains quite exceptional in the durability and (one Civil War aside) stability of its republican institutions. Few other republics would have come through the knife-edge election of 2000 without a shot being fired. Compare what is happening in Mexico, where the loser in July's close presidential election is talking openly and ominously of civil resistance.


Kings — and queens — have their shortcomings. They can seem a little quaint. But maybe there are worse ways of choosing a successor than good old blood lineage.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


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Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University. He is the author of "Empire" (Basic Books, 2003) and "Colossus" (Penguin, 2004). Comment by clicking here.


09/05/06: Red-state Republicans and blue-faced liberals are starting to agree: Green is the way
08/29/06: What if the London Bombers Succeeded?
08/15/06: Testing the Limits of the U.N.: Who seriously expects Kofi Annan to stop Al Qaeda terror attacks?
08/08/06: The coming tsunami of trash
07/18/06: Forget the '60s and ‘Make Love, Not War.’ Today's world is facing a Summer of Rage
07/11/06: When will China pull the plug on North Korea?
06/20/06: Hedge funds vs. central bankers: Will inflation, deflation or recession win in the coming months?
06/13/06: Britain's economy is just like America's — minus the entrepreneurs and growth
06/06/06: The X-Men have taken over Washington
05/30/06: Quit protesting, profs!
05/23/06: World markets' wild ride: Economic volatility is back with a vengeance
05/16/06: The Cold Wars are coming
05/09/06: Many commentators are missing dangerous political shift
05/02/06: Put some sugar in your tank
04/25/06: Hu and the dog that didn't bark
04/18/06: Should Americans be less optimistic?
04/11/06: Globalization's second death?
04/04/06: So many ‘special’ friends
03/28/06: Let's get it right about what has gone wrong
03/21/06: Congress is trying to give the world a globotomy
03/14/06: Lame ducks can still bite back
03/07/06: A 19th Century critique of a 21st Century president
02/28/06: The crash of civilizations
02/21/06: Not the president, but close
02/14/06: Want historic trouble? Look south
02/07/06: Greenspan advising Britain? It's housing bubbles, deficits and potential meltdowns all over again
01/31/06: Missing the Cold War
01/24/06: It's a sick, Thick World
01/17/06: Tomorrow's world war today
01/03/06: Scotland, it's over, but keep the accents
12/20/05: History, democracy and Iraq
12/20/05: History, democracy and Iraq
11/22/05: Ghost of Napoleon haunts Tony Blair
11/22/05: Can it happen in Britain too?
11/15/05: Red plus blue equals purple
11/10/05: The fires of disintegration
11/01/05: Triumph of an über-wonk

© 2006, Los Angeles Times Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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