Republicans: Rich Pubes
(Click here to bypass historical lead-up to res pubes democracy)
A funny thing happened on the way to the forum to write about better democracy and capitalism. A skeleton was found in the closet of the Republican Party. The skeleton? Its semantic roots.
To better understand democracy, the author studied the history of both Greece and Rome. Greece was the Cradle of Democracy. It organized itself into demes from which a leader (demearch) was elected to participate in the next level of common policy-making and so forth. As a rule, this tapping of citizens' intelligence worked very well. Showing the exceptions to the rule was how Greece involved itself in some unsuccessful foreign wars that led to Pyrrhic victories.
As Greece declined, a new power appeared in the central Mediterranean area: Roma. Initially a kingship, Rome evolved into a democracy that was limited to a certain class of citizens. Kings had been advised and assisted by a Council of Elders. The last of the seven kings, Tarquinius Superbus, (Talky the proud) had a day of disagreement. As king, Tarquinius fired the council which immediately fired the king.
The Council of Elders confronted the need to administer and defend a growing commercial enterprise--after all, Rome was first and foremost about business. It would be a government of the people with a Senate to represent the people. For day-to-day administration, an executive branch was defined consisting of two consuls and preators. The positions were filled by annual elections. Climbing the executive hierarchy was the honorable course--cursus honorum--quaestor, aedile, praetor and consul.
To assist the executives, supporting roles were defined for Roman Senators, e.g., judges in civil and general matters. After being first and foremost a commercial enterprise, Rome was the biggest bed of lawyers that humanity had ever seen. Being a lawyer was viewed as one way to garner voter support for election up the cursus honorum.
Lawyers are like highways: the more your have, the more travel and litigation. Rome had layers of laws on top of laws which allowed the judges to rule pretty much whatever way they felt. Roman judges were role models for the U.S. Supreme Court which has shown that laws don't judge but judges choose laws. Ironically, and almost as amusing as res pubus, the word testify reflects Roman respect for a person who had the testicular fortitude to tell the truth before peers. Judges were not immune from impeachment when perceived by the Roman crowd to be biased or corrupt. Impeachment consisted of dispatchment from the Tarpeian Rock.
The Senators' goal was an efficient government without much demand on personal time. The Council of Elders realized their government would take too much time from their private lives, so they expanded the Senate to 300. The defining nature of the initial Roman democracy was who could be a member of the Senate. Membership in the Senate was more than status. It was a voice in the direction of the nation. Senatorial status open the best doors outside of Rome. To become a consul which was the highest executive achievement and a statement of being first among equals, you had to begin at the bottom which began with membership in the Senate.
Rome's greatness was how, while limited to a few, the Roman government implemented a policy-making and ruling process that challenged and motivated the best and the brightest into public service as the defining achievement of one's life. Parallel to a career in law was military achievement. While a king might produce a great general on occasion, Rome produced phalanxes of generals. Generals came from either promotions or consulars if the consuls were unwilling. The best and the brightest.
The general's goal was the Roman Triumph. Originally, a triumph was an honor that happened only about once a decade. To be a consul was an honor achieved by two Romans each year. To be a triumphant was an honor of once a decade or less. Before the Senate could confer a triumph which involved several days of feasting at public expense, the general's army had to first declare him imperator upon a field of great victory. The victory had to be complete; the enemy subjugated so the victorious army could leave the field of battle. This was no small feat. The Triumph was to Rome and its Consuls what a Washington, Lincoln or Roosevelt are to America and its Presidents.
Legionnaires of the original Roman army were only landowners, just like the general. A city renter could not fight for Rome until 100 B.C. Stuffy, egalitarian Roman soldiers didn't readily admit another Roman might be the better, even if it was their general, which is what a triumph indicated. Besides, legions elected tribunes to advice the general and to represent the legionnaires. This reticence was especially true of the general's legates who would be lessening their own chances for triumph. An additional honor by which the triumphator could remind everyone of his victory was appending a surname based on the area of the victory: Asiaticus, Africanus, Dalmaticus, Britannicus, or Germanicus.Unlike the politicians of today, Roman politicians identified themselves as agents of, by and for the Roman People and Senate. Ironically, the abuse of the public law process to give others privileges is a Roman phrase indicating the abuse of the public law process: private laws (privileges).
Having knowledge of Greece's experience with democracy, the Roman fathers were not amused by the recurring demagogue who would appear from outside the aristocracy. Demagogues would whip the populous into actions detrimental to the upperclass, e.g., canceling debt. Demagogues were also blamed for the ruinous foreign wars of Greece. Most were seen as landless businessmen or artisans (actors) who did not have anything to lose if Greece lost the war.
Businessmen consistently constructed factors or cartels to control supply and prices to the detriment of the nation. Busy yourself elsewhere. Act for the conquerers. The Roman fathers decided to limit their democracy to the upper crust who had family history and a landed stake in Roma's future.
Looking about themselves, and with the Greek caveats, the iron ring wearers decreed only Romans who owned a minimum of 6000 iugeras of land (about 3600 acres) could stand for membership in the Roman Senate. You could not have membership if you were a businessman. Furthermore, if a Senator was found to be engaged in business other than running a farm--huge plantations with all the accoutrements of the peculiar institute--the Senator would lose his membership. Some of these plantations were whole provinces with tens of thousands of slaves and clients. So there you have the origin of "re" in republic, that is, "res" as in real estate--land. This "res" is the origin of related words: rex, regina, regis, and regal.
While words of wisdom occasionally spout from the mouths of babes, the Roman fathers knew the Senate and State were no place for kids. Given that the average person did not live beyond thirty, manhood was established and mandated with the donning of the toga at puberty. Until puberty, a child was not allowed to go outside without a chaperone. If you were not invited to or aware of the toga party--the Roman's bar mitzvah--you would know the kid was not hairless anymore when you saw him going about without a chaperone. "Ah, Gaius, is now a pube. See him over there without his slave."
So there you have it, the rear semantic root of "republic"--pubes. And what do you think the crafty, Romans called a gathering of pubes? Well, a public gathering! For the Romans, it was a simple, matter of fact that they had a democracy limited to real estate owning adults--res pubus, wealth adults. For the Romans, to say pube was as easy as we say adult, or, as easy it is for a Christian to say "God", a Jew to say "Yahweh," or a Muslim to say "Allah."
Regardless of how much one may want to engage in semantic slippage on the meaning of "republic," the origin dictates that it is a democracy or dictatorship limited to a few wealthy, real estate adult males. It is rule by a few that countenances the formal or informal enslavement of others. When one realizes that estate taxes liberate or enslave succeeding generations, it is altogether fitting that the banners of the modern American Republican party champion the repeal of estate taxes. However, the cause celebre of the appropriately named Republican president in 2000--Bush--totally repudiates Republican origin within the Abolitionist Cause of the 1850's.
The big question is what did America's founding fathers know and when did they know it? Clearly, they admired the original Roman Republic, for the American enfranchisement was limited to the wealthy in each state. How many of those statesmen learned in Latin knew the semantic roots is unknown to this author.
It is wrong to say that a republic is not a democracy? A republic is a democracy limited to a wealthy few. An aristocracy is a democracy limited to a fewer few. A mob is too much democracy. America has in principle, a democracy which is better than a republic. With on-line brain bee, we can have a democracy of, by and for the people which is the ultimate form of human productivity to save and create time.
After concluding (based on the history of the Roman Republic) what res pubes meant, rooting out supporting documentation was needed. Consulting the well-worn college dictionary showed a flaw in this conclusion. The entry for public showed the roots of public as "prob alter[probably alternative] of poplicus fr. populus the people." But, yet, above "public" was the that nasty little word--pubis. Could it be that the dictionary was misleading or censored?
Well, if you want to look up adult terms, you need an adult dictionary. High school dictionaries and high school Shakespeare often leave things out. Bingo! Within the Oxford English Dictionary (OED, 1998) one finds:
This meaning is also found in the Oxford Latin Dictionary
Interestingly, publica is a prostitute in Latin and publicanus is a tax farmer. (Oxford Latin Dictionary). Res publica often means republic or commonwealth (Websters) but the actions of the habitual politicians echo the original meaning of publica, particularly, rich whores.To say that politicians, in particular, Republicans, are streetwalkers and tax thieves is not only not justified but these terms were derived from the source of republic. Literally and increasingly, a rich whore is a res publica--republican.
While the modern day Republicans figuratively and literally fit the semantic roots, the Abolitionists who chose "Republican" for the their political party in 1854 were clearly naive of the Roman roots. Could a group of people dedicated to ending the rule by plantation males (res pubes) knowingly adopt an anti-moniker for its cause of equality and freedom? Why would political activitists dedicated to "Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Fremont" (1856 Republican presidential slogan) choose a description of democracy limited to "few adults, slave labor, fee speech, states rights, Monticello?" Therein lies the rub--the rube of the little mountain, the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence. Naively, the abolitionists sought the equality espoused by Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party, latching on the unused half. Of course, a full review of history from the Roman Forum through Jefferson's backroom to today's boardrooms shows how Republican is a nasty, inhumane label for hypocrisy and inequality.
If the full dark meaning of Republican had been known in the 1850's, there is not doubt that Abraham Lincoln would not have been the first Republican president. He would have been president, just not a res pubes presider. Equally important to realize is how the Republican Party is not the party of Lincoln .
In the fading light of the dying Whig Party, Lincoln combined a drive for public service and a disdain for all slavery in being the chief architect of the Illinois Republican Party when its platform was nailed together in Decatur, January 1856. A sign of his foresightedness was how he was the only non-newspaperman in this convocation of editors. For Lincoln, the fight to preserve the Union was a fight to defend and promote government of, by and for the people--see Gettysburg Address. Democracy is the best process by which people can solve their common, public problems. On an individual basis, Lincoln was a champion of the individual being rewarded for using his labor and head (capita) to solve personal, private problems of survival--1st Annual Message to Congress. As such, Lincoln would have been a Democratic Capitalist. He viewed himself as not only a happy, appreciative product of American liberty and freedom but also as a debtor who owed future generations the same or greater liberties and freedoms.
No better word fits the money dictators who control the Republican Party than its Roman roots and derivatives--rich pubes. Republican politicians fulfill the streetwalking meaning, selling themselves to the highest bidder. Of them, by them and for them, there is the "Get It Boys Address." Can there be a better name for a Republican President than Bush? Or, as Carol snapped, "No, Bush isn't a rich puber. He's a rich pubic heir."
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