Why I Give Meghan and Harry a Break

Mark Olmsted
5 min readMar 15, 2021

Like any thinking person, I find the concept of a monarchy at best silly, at worst fascistic. But as that same thinking person, I also have long concluded that human beings are evolutionarily wired to crave hierarchy.

It’s no accident that our closest genetic relatives, (in fact almost all mammals) have a structure in which power descends from either an alpha female or male. In the case of chimpanzees, and many other primates, the pecking orders can be as strict as anything one might see in an English public school in the 19th century. Bonobos offer some hope that primates are capable of fairly non-hierarchical consensus culture, but they are the exception that arguably proves the rule. Survival of the fittest rewards the genes of the dominant, and dominance is achieved largely through a combination of physical aggression and cultivation of social allies to maintain power once its achieved. (Most of us tend to bemoan office politics, but truly, it’s in our bones.)

From prehistoric times, humankind has similarly always established social structures in which individuals are elevated in authority over others, even though the “power” they hold is psychological and abstract, entirely dependent on the willingness of others to carry out and enforce their orders. Every society through history has established kings, queens, pharaohs, generals, founding fathers, slaveowners and slaves, bosses and workers, as well as classes of striving in-between merchants and entrepreneurial who generally step on each other to rise through the ranks.

Even communism, which in principle was established for the proletariat/masses to finally take charge, devolved quickly into rigid totalitarianism, (Stalin ) and dynasty (Korea’s Kims). Our religions are similarly riven with priests, bishops, mullahs, and tribal elders promulgating rules via their sacred texts that constrict and constrain freedom among their adherents, quite irrationally. No one forces them to believe and obey theologies that largely serve to make their lives worse. Billions are the guards and inmates of their own prison camps.

Enlightened democracy is the one system that at least sets up the possibility of true consent by the governed, expressed by an electorally determined majority. But we have very current history to show that even a country…

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Mark Olmsted

Author, "Ink from the Pen: A Prison Memoir" about my time behind bars. See GQ dot com “Curious Cons of the Man Who Wouldn’t Die” for story of how I got there.