As much as I loathe the current state of US politics — and the civil war I think is currently slouching its way towards Bethlehem as a result of those politics — the political/history nerd in me gets just all sweaty and excited by the bullshit accompanying the UK’s weak, vacillating, and laughably inept “departure” from the EU…
Look, I’ll be the first to admit that it doesn’t take much to get me sweaty and excited…erm…umm…
Okay, moving on now: it also does not take much to get me to gleefully go back and re-visit various events and eras in history. The fact that for the past three years the UK has managed to make a race for 7th-grade-class-president look competent, professional and — dare I say it? — enviably grown-up has just added to the sweaty excitement of that urge.
For a nation that prides itself on never really having been torn apart by a civil war, Britain has had a remarkable number of — ahem — civil wars. As much as I want to turn to the War of the Roses for thoughts and examples, however — or even to the “Shipwreck” between Matilda and Stephen — there just is no way I can bypass Cromwell. C’mon, the guy overthrew the freaking King, made Parliament supreme…then overthrew the very Parliament he had put in place!
There is a reason, by the way, why folks say there is no such thing as a “new” story. It’s all been written before. Well, hell, today’s corollary to that introduces the fact that there is no such thing as a fictional story, either. No matter how bad the screw up, humanity has found a way to do EVERY stupid thing you can possibly imagine!
I’m sorry, Britain…but, God, do I love this shit…
Anyway, here is Cromwell’s lesson, his last speech to Parliament before shutting it down. This is, I should add, appropriate for Britain and Brexit, yes, but also incredibly apt for the United States of today (it is also simply one of the most wonderfully vituperative pieces of spite you will ever read):
“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.
Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government.
Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?
Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?
Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.
Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.
I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.
Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.
In the name of God, go!”