Sunday, October 16, 2011

Conservatives to downtrodden: Let them eat jobs

I remember learning about the French Revolution in high school, and my history teacher scoffed at the idea that Marie Antoinette had really ever said "let them eat cake" ("Qu'ils mangent de la brioche") upon being informed that the peasants had no bread.  Wikipedia's writers on this subject evidently agree, and it seems unlikely that Antoinette herself actually uttered the words.  Some think it was invented by revolutionary radicals of the day as a propaganda tool against the monarchy.  After all, it is a pretty outrageous thing to say.  Either the speaker is hopelessly deluded about how the poor live, or is simply malicious in their scorn for the suffering of others.  Could anyone have really said it?

Having observed the collective conservative/top 1% response to the Occupy movement, and to the economically downtrodden in general over these past few years, I have to say I am quite certain that someone in the French nobility said it, or something very like it.  Things just as bad are said routinely today.  One can start with the dreary "get a job, hippies!" jabs at any and all protests, to this vile litany, and this, and of course, let's throw in Rick Santelli's Tea Party inspiring rant:
Why don't you put up a website to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages; or would we like to at least buy cars and buy houses in foreclosure and give them to people that might have a chance to actually prosper down the road, and reward people that could carry the water instead of drink the water?
Really, being shocked that some rich twit in the 1700s might have actually thought that the poor could just switch to cake when bread was unavailable, or was so unconcerned with their hunger as to derisively mock it is just a luxury of the post WWII societal consensus that has now broken down.  It was nice to think that we all basically want a society where everyone has enough to survive, but just differ on how to bring that about, but it just isn't so.  Many people don't believe this is possible, or actually don't want it to happen even if it could.

Versailles never really shut down.  It lives on in the hearts of many of the privileged.

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