“Since the King was bent on emancipating himself from the control of Parliament, and since, in such an enterprise, he could not hope for effectual aid at home, it followed that he must look for aid abroad. The power and wealth of the King of France might be equal to the arduous task of establishing absolute monarchy in England. Such an ally would undoubtedly expect substantial proofs of gratitude for such a service. Charles must descend to the rank of a great vassal, and must make peace and war according to the directions of the government which protected him. His relation to Lewis would closely resemble that in which the Rajah of Nagpore and the King of Oude now stand to the British Government. Those princes are bound to aid the East India Company in all hostilities, defensive and offensive, and to have no diplomatic relations but such as the East India Company shall sanction. The Company in return guarantees them against insurrection. As long as they faithfully discharge their obligations to the paramount power, they are permitted to dispose of large revenues, to fill their palaces with beautiful women, to besot themselves in the company of their favourite revellers, and to oppress with impunity any subject who may incur their displeasure. Such a life would be insupportable to a man of high spirit and of powerful understanding. But to Charles, sensual, indolent, unequal to any strong intellectual exertion, and destitute alike of all patriotism and of all sense of personal dignity, the prospect had nothing unpleasing.”
Excerpt From: Thomas Babington Macaulay, “The History of England, from the Accession of James II — Volume 1.”
Though Trump and his Republican minions have the indisputable aura of deceit and absurdity about almost everything they say and do, and though Trump’s toadies include the smarmy likes of Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, their conduct and motive is nothing new. Trump is not the message; he’s merely the messenger. And the message he’s touting started a long time ago with yet another messenger named Louis XIV, the Sun King.
Louis began his personal rule of France in 1661, after the death of his chief minister, the Cardinal Mazarin. An adherent of the concept of the divine right of kings, Louis continued his predecessors’ work of creating a centralised state governed from the capital. He sought to eliminate the remnants of feudalism persisting in parts of France and, by compelling many members of the nobility to inhabit his lavish Palace of Versailles, succeeded in pacifying the aristocracy, many members of which had participated in the Fronde rebellion during his minority. By these means he became one of the most powerful French monarchs and consolidated a system of absolute monarchy in France that endured until the French Revolution. He also enforced uniformity of religion under the Gallican Catholic Church. His revocation of the Edict of Nantes abolished the rights of the Huguenot Protestant minority and subjected them to a wave of dragonnades, effectively forcing Huguenots to emigrate or convert, and virtually destroying the French Protestant community.
The themes of control through pay-offs and persecution are by now commonplace but they currently appear to be aligned most fruitfully with Republicans who make the obvious connection of strength to superiority. Commerce has degenerated to a distorted form of feudalism exchanging fidelity for protection. It’s a great system if you don’t give a damn for conscience or reality and you live in a palace but it is offensive to those devoted more to calculated improvement of society from top to bottom. When the only excuse for not doing anything new is that one doesn’t understand the alternative option, it is an exceedingly small compliment to one’s intellectual capacity and inner convictions (if any other than persisting in one’s superiority).
William Shakespeare was among those who identified the baseness of certain orders of society. The pit which customarily surrounded the stage where the actors performed was the home of the “groundlings” who as the name suggests dwelled in the lower ranks of the audience.
In Elizabethan times, play-going audiences were a diverse bunch. In the upper gallery, the wealthier patrons fanned themselves and looked with disdain at those who could only afford the penny admission to the pit below. Pit spectators had to sit or stand in close proximity on the bare floor, exposed to the sweltering sun or the dampening rain. At times, they behaved less than decorously, and they reportedly emitted a less than pleasant odor. The pit was also called the ground; those in it were groundlings. Today, we use groundlings to refer not only to the less than couth among us, but also (often with some facetiousness) to ordinary Janes or Joes.
It is disappointing to characterize certain people as groundlings – uninitiated, unintelligent and generally seen as losers – but it is a reality of existence at any time in history just as its thesis of unchangeable performance is to this day a standard refrain of those who feel threatened. The Republicans are overtly capitalizing upon this electoral fodder by continuing to promote whatever maintains fear in its crowd of supporters. The “left” issue of the “Big Lie” about the latest presidential election is irrelevant to the Republicans who have diverted their own misinformation to their audience, and who now pretend to serve the people who project the lie. In return the Republicans hope to scoop up election favour and thereby continue to preserve their own tax and regulatory advantage. It is no accident that within the scope of Trump’s presidency the White House was full of industry business and power (military) leaders who unquestionably advanced their own commercial and prerogative advantages.
Trump is however best to recall the unsavoury ending of the French King Louis XVI:
Louis XVI was the last King of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. He was referred to as Citizen Louis Capet during the four months just before he was executed by guillotine.