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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...

the Reform Act 1832 disfranchised the 57 rotten boroughs
and redistributed representation in Parliament to new major population centres.

- Wikipedia Rotten Borough

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.

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...

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.

- NYT Budget crisis planned by Koch Brothers

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.

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.

- Politics and the Constitution in the History of the United States, Volume 3

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."[1]

- Wikipedia Confederate Constitution

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.

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 clergy

The 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.

- Chris Hedges The Radical Christian Right and the War on Government

The fundamenalist angle explains the GOP war on women:
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.

- C. Hedges

4. Conclusion

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.


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

Originally posted to arendt on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 06:53 PM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think we need.. (8+ / 0-)

    A National Civil War/ The Evil Confederacy Lost! Month every year, just as a reminder. With parades, Devil Rebel masks for the kids, etc.

    The treason siren song calls the rich plantation owners as always, and they fund their minions with millions. One day they will win, if the Union is not strong in its eternal defence.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 07:11:56 PM PDT

    •  we won the war but lost the peace (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arendt, Chi, HadEnoughYet, prfb, Karl Rover, Bluefin

      We were nice to the defeated South, and they thought we were weak.

      They were right.

      Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

      by Visceral on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 08:57:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Visceral, Chi, Bluefin, Karl Rover

        Neanderthal fanatics breeding even loonier fanatics, always kept alive by the aristos for their current and potential usefulness as tools and shock troops.

        God curse John Wilkes Booth and Andrew Johnson. Two shmucks who made sure all of America lost the peace.

        •  aristocrats never do (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          They said the same thing about the House of Bourbon during the restoration of the French monarchy after the Napoleons.

          The mob knew what they were doing. Too bad Robespierre had to go and ruin a perfectly good revolution with his own ego trip.

          Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

          by Visceral on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 09:14:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Hey, hey - avast there! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The first President Johnson certainly had his issues, like racism and other shortcomings of his upbringing. But he was fiercely anti-aristo and stood -- at his personal peril -- against the planter class that had controlled his region for generations.

          And he was finally impeached by Congress largely for trying to implement Lincoln's "let 'em up easy" plan against the wishes of an aggressively vindictive Republican party.

          Would the "Lost Cause" crapola have grown into a modern teabagger phenom if the Radical Republicans had erased every trace of the former southern states and salted the earth there in 1865 as they wanted to? Perhaps -- we shall never know.

          But I think pinning the blame on Johnson is graceless and unmerited. There are many who deserve it more.

          •  I was unaware of his "anti-aristo" cred... (0+ / 0-)

            I have not read deeply into the post-Civil War era, so I have only the superficial highlights, in which Johnson was painted as a tool of the South.

            Therefore, I have no ready facts to dispute your claim. But, these days, I am more in favor of the Radical Republicans. We have had 200 years of aristo agitprop and rebellion from the Old Confederate elites. They have been a blot on our country. I don't see how the Radical Republicans  could have done worse than one hundred years of Jim Crow.

            As for your hypothetical, it is contra-factual because, in an age that already had the telegraph and mass circulation media, it would have been impossible to do the kind of systematic elimination of material to meet your preconditions.

            I should add, though, that Grant was worse than Johnson - a clueless idiot who fronted a parade of corruption while pretty much soft-pedaling  Reconstruction.

  •  Yep I'm One Who's Often Commented Here That (9+ / 0-)

    restoring the Articles of Confederation has always been the rightwing vision.

    The Articles open by affirming the "sovereignty" and "rights" of the states; whereas in the entire text of the Constitution and all the amendments "right" never appears connected to states, and "sovereign" or -ty does not appear at all.

    Under the Constitution states, like the nation, have powers not "rights." Under the Bill of Rights only people and news corporations have rights and freedoms.

    One of the KRATS on SCOTUS was quoted mentioning traditions of state sovereignty within the last year.

    The Constitution gives promotion of the general welfare as a foundational purpose for it, then goes on to empower the Congress to levy taxes and duties to pay for promoting the general welfare.

    This enrages the libertarians and the confederates, whose Articles of Confederation recognize no such purpose and grant no such power.

    I notice they seek no limiting of private power to the state or local level. The want local and state government to face global corporations powerful enough to ride roughshod over everyone.

    Government and government alone is the only institutional power they recognize as capable of unjust imposition on freedom.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 07:48:46 PM PDT

  •  Nicely done (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Some things never change; they just get new names.


  •  T&R'd, bookmarked for community edu. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Also added tags: "Aristocracy" and "Creeping Aristocracy" so I can find this diary for later research. Thanks for posting.

  •  1K rec's for this at least. I just spent entirely (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    too much time Sun/Mon on Wikipedia looking into "rotten boroughs" and a bunch of similar stuff.
    I had noticed a reference to it in the diary by Lenny Flank on "Corfe Castle" and one thing led to another, most interesting dot connecting.

    Thank you for tying it all together so well here.
    I know lots of people here in Texas who (still) have what is termed a "plantation mentality" infused in their blood. Everything I've seen on this issue, including your piece here, is spot on the (Confederate) dollar.
    But then I've been predicting another civil war for at least a decade. Sure don't want to see it, and neither do most I think, but the Repuke masters, politicians, and media are slowly stoking things up to that.

    We’re Ready, Wendy’s Ready! WTF Are We Waiting For? Bring ‘em on! The revolution has begun! Come and take it!

    by Bluefin on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 07:09:26 AM PDT

    •  Great minds think alike :-) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      prfb, Bluefin

      I would like to get the term "rotten boroughs" into wider circulation, and tie it to the Articles of Confederation.

      If there is one thing people were taught in high school history, it was how INEFFECTIVE the AoC was. And the TP wants to take us back to this failed policy.

      That is, IMHO, a better talking point than just "its anti-democratic". The talking point is: America tried it, the UK tried it; and it failed. The GOP want to try it again.

      •  I was planning to do exactly that after reading (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the Wikis.
        The other form of aristocratic corruption was the "pocket borough", which might be even more apt as it involved not only the natural gerrymandering of a "rotten borough", but had control of their lieges and tenants votes and minds by virtue of the 'narrow' plots of land they occupied (burgage, analogous to their narrow minds), and 'thought control' by their "patrons" (pastors,  Limpballs, Fox, Beck, etc.).

        In some boroughs, while not "rotten", parliamentary representation was in the control of one or more "patrons" who, by owning burgage tenements, had the power to decide elections, as their tenants had to vote publicly and dared not defy their landlords.
        I would argue that the power and hold that the Dominionist type pastors and RW media have over the brainwashed RW flock of sheeple negates the "secret vote" we assume today, yielding an effective "pocket or rotten borough" fitting whatever geographical, demographic, and political boundaries they can assemble.

        Yep, same thought:

        Great minds think alike :-) (1+ / 0-)

        I would like to get the term "rotten boroughs" into wider circulation, and tie it to the Articles of Confederation.

        We’re Ready, Wendy’s Ready! WTF Are We Waiting For? Bring ‘em on! The revolution has begun! Come and take it!

        by Bluefin on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 08:41:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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