A rotten borough was a parliamentary constituency in the UK that had a very small electorate and could be used by a patron to gain undue and unrepresentative influence within the Unreformed House of Commons... Many such rotten boroughs were controlled by peers who gave the seats to their sons, other relations or friends...180 years after the arsitocrat-ruled UK abolished the practice, the SCOTUS, in the precedent-shattering Citizens United ruling, decided to re-animate this anti-democracy dinosaur. Since then, the Koch Brothers have had the legal justification to use their vast wealth to essentiallly jam this form of government down our uneducated throats; and they have not been shy about using it.
the Reform Act 1832 disfranchised the 57 rotten boroughs and redistributed representation in Parliament to new major population centres.
- Wikipedia Rotten Borough
Below the fold, we will consider how these stinking aristos plan to use their newly granted powers.
First, we need to be clear about who is funding the government shutdown:
The current budget brinkmanship is just the latest development in a well-financed, broad-based assault on the health law, Mr. Obama’s signature legislative initiative...In other words, aristos have decided that they now have enough money power ($200M is 20% of what was spent on the last Presidential election.) to impose the "rotten boroughs" form of government.
The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort. A group linked to the Kochs, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, disbursed more than $200 million last year to nonprofit organizations involved in the fight. Included was $5 million to Generation Opportunity, which created a buzz last month with an Internet advertisement showing a menacing Uncle Sam figure popping up between a woman’s legs during a gynecological exam.
1. Rotten boroughs are anti-democratic.
Our founding fathers witnessed the yet-to-be-reformed UK rotten boroughs, and rejected them. They perceived the dangerously ineffective Articles of Confederation to be just another instance of Rotten Boroughs:
The Articles of Confederation were, from the point of view of the more extensive and more populous states, simply a proposal to create a general legislature with a "rotten borough" system of suffrage and representation.And, surprise, surprise - the Confederate Constitution is a "rotten boroughs" constitution:
The Preamble to the Confederate Constitution: "We, the people of the Confederate States, each state acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity — invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God — do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America."In fact, the "solid South" is the biggest "rotten borough" of all time. 200 years of fighting for aristocratic privilege. And, note for later, their so-called democratic Constitution drags God into civil government.
- Wikipedia Confederate Constitution
The rotten borough has always been correctly perceived as the tool of the aristocracy. It is hardly surprising that the planter aristocracy of the Old South embraced this intrinsically aristocratic form of government.
What is new is how the modern aristos, the Kochs, are attempting to turn the US into another version of the Confederacy, or of the un-reformed UK Parliament, via the shutdown. As many others have said, our very Constitution is at stake in this fight.
I am by far the first to notice the Neo-confederate angle to the Tea Party and the shutdown (a.k.a. nullification). See Tea Party are the New Confederates or Shutdown fulfills GOP's Confederate Fantasies or Tea Party is upscale Southern whites.
My major point here is that the GOP shutdown is not merely anti-democratic. It is the form of government of the failed Articles of Confederation, the failed rebellion of the Confederacy, and the abolished rule of the British aristocracy.These are valuable talking points.
2. The shutdown is a billionaire attempt to impose corporate colonialism on America
Given the billionaire-funded nature of the Tea Party gang documented by the NYT, it is clear that the billionaire elite has decided they have effective control of America; and that its time to reduce it to colonial status. They have all the money; they control the Military/Intelligence/Police/Prison apparatus. They control the corporate media. In the billionaire bubble, its time to get the payoff for their decades-long investment in destabilizing American democracy.
The Tea Party is the vehicle of these aristos; and their program is stunningly similar to the colonial program applied to Iraq after World War 1 by the British aristocracy, then approaching terminal illness. (For the sake of flow, pleas read the footnote about Iraq.)
The British aristo program is being copied by our billionaires. They have decided to fund the "tribes in the countryside" (i.e., the gerrymandered Tea Party districts), because these "noble" hicks are "untouched by all that was negative about the modern day". Too bad that the word "noble" has the unfortunate connotation of the "Nobel Cause", the "Lost Cause" - that is, all the dead-ender, racist, sexist rump still fighting the Civil War to preserve "white privilege" and "manly virtues" all these 150 years.
The aristos have spent 30 years propagandizing and organizing these losers into a primitive tribe with a primitive religion whose only commandment seems to be hatred of the "other". Their on-going sabotage/sell-off of American manufacturing has been pawned off on the "evil" government - an easy sell in a part of the country that has spent almost two centuries hating the central government.
3. The billionaires intend to pull a "House of Saud" aristo/theocrat alliance
One of the worst outcomes of the British aristos elevation of tribal leaders was the empowerment of the House of Saud and its fundamentalist legitimizers, the Wahabis. The Sauds basically used fundamentalist Islam to run their opponents out of town. Then they set up a cozy arrangement: corrrupt, libertine aristos fund ascetic, whackjob fundamentalist clergy. Outcome: Al Quida, Afghanistan. Those who have studied this sick symbiosis even have a most unfortunate phrase to describe the arisocrat/theocrat alliance:
Saudi authoritarianism may be founded on the Al Saud family’s “grand bargain” with the Wahhabist clergyThe newly self-elevated American aristos are following the same pathway of alliance to a distorted religion - Jesus+Mammon, or Jesus+Ayn Rand. I'm not sure what to call it; but it sure isn't Christianity. It is tribalism, male dominance, and every bad primitive idea you can think of: slavery, female sequestration, science denial, hatred of modernity.
You think this is a stretch? Well:
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz—whose father is Rafael Cruz, a rabid right-wing Christian preacher and the director of the Purifying Fire International ministry—and legions of the senator’s wealthy supporters, some of whom orchestrated the shutdown, are rooted in a radical Christian ideology known as Dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism....It fuses with the Christian religion the iconography and language of American imperialism and nationalism, along with the cruelest aspects of corporate capitalism. The intellectual and moral hollowness of the ideology, its flagrant distortion and misuse of the Bible, the contradictions that abound within it—its leaders champion small government and a large military, as if the military is not part of government—and its laughable pseudoscience are impervious to reason and fact. And that is why the movement is dangerous.The fundamenalist angle explains the GOP war on women:
- Chris Hedges The Radical Christian Right and the War on Government
The cult of masculinity, as in all fascist movements, pervades the ideology of the Christian right...Feminism and homosexuality, believers are told, have rendered the American male physically and spiritually impotent. Jesus, for the Christian right, is a man of action, casting out demons, battling the Antichrist, attacking hypocrites and ultimately slaying nonbelievers. This cult of masculinity, with its glorification of violence, is appealing to the powerless.4. Conclusion
- C. Hedges
Its amazing how easy it is to connect these dots: rotten boroughs, aristocrats, colonialism, fundamentalists. The hard part is going to be getting enough people to see what is at risk here before its too late.
FOOTNOTE 1: Iraq
many of the (British administators of Iraq in 1919) completely distrusted the new modern middle class that had grown up in the cities like Baghdad.
This class had helped run the Ottoman Empire and the British believed that they were tainted - that they had been corrupted by the despotic Ottomans, and that if they were given power they could rise up and become despots themselves.
To prevent this,...colonial administrators turned instead to the tribes in the countryside and the Sheikhs that controlled the tribes. The Sheikhs would be a far better alternative - powerful "people of influence" who could help the British run Iraq. They were "true" Iraqis, unscathed by Ottoman influence.
What made the rural tribes and their leaders so attractive to the British was the fact that they seemed - in their imaginations - to be just like the stable feudal world of Britain with its rural nobility. The British were explicit about this, the Administrative Report for the Basra Division in 1918 said:
"These landlords are men of gentility and pride, occupying a position of influence and status reminiscent of that of the feudal landlords of English history"
...Some British administrators in Iraq thought this was mad - that you couldn't transmit authority and order through the tribal system, especially because the sheikhs' political and social power had declined long before the British turned up. It was also sidelining the one group who could help create a proper modern society - the middle class in Baghdad.
But, as Toby Dodge shows, the romantic vision of the sheikh as the linchpin of rural society won out. His judgement is blunt:
"This vision had little to do with the historical or social truth of the society. It sprang in large part from the colonial officials own understandings of the evolution of British society.
To the British the noble bedouin, untouched by all that was negative about the modern day, stood in stark contrast to those who peopled the cities - to those who had succumbed to the temptations of modernity."
If Dodge is right - and his evidence is very powerful - what the British did was create Iraq as an expression of their own fears about what was happening to their own country. They took their worries about the rise of the urban mass, and the horrors of industrialisation in Europe and projected this onto the complex societies that were all mixed together in the nascent Iraq.
They then ruthlessly ignored this complexity and gave a lot of power to the noble, virile sheikhs