On a recent trip to France, I visited the Palace of Versailles, about a 20 to 30 minute ride from the center of Paris.
Versailles is rich, intimidating, ornate, ostentatious, and walled in. There’s relevancy here.
This is the historical home of Marie Antoinette, Louis the 16th and many others before and after. Marie Antoinette is the woman who is commonly misattributed for saying, “Let them eat cake,” or as she might have said, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!”
The quote is not Marie Antoinette’s, as is commonly thought; an unenlightened princess is believed to have been the ignoramus to have uttered the words.
The peasants were starving, a servant informed the princess that the peasants have no bread to eat. The now classic response, “Let them eat cake/brioche,” (a bread enriched with egg and milk) demonstrates how out of touch with reality the French royals were.
Versailles is the most beautiful palace and gardens you will probably ever see. Yet it remains a painful reminder of the great divide between the rich and poor of latter-day France.
The strange thing is that despite being oblivious to the living conditions outside of the palace gates, the royalty seemed to have an affinity for the musculature of the peasant body.
In the gardens you will see a statue of a male peasant. The statue demonstrates the obliviousness of the royals towards the impoverished peasants.
Take a look at this statue and let me know if you think a hungry French peasant in 1789 would look like this. Would someone who was hungry and starving have muscles like that? My guess is unless they have a genetic mutation the answer is no.
Isn’t it wonderful how the royalty of a hungry, unemployed population create an alternate reality to ease their own guilty conscience. It is a good thing that America doesn’t have a royal family.
Imagine what a divide there would be between the haves and have-nots in America if we did have a royal family? Imagine being so out of touch with reality that a small bet equates with $10,000. Imagine being so out of touch with reality that owning 6 homes, and partially owning a 7th, is just normal in a country where the majority of the population are struggling to pay their mortgages? That’s a crazy reality! That’s a reality where a multi-billionaire pays less in taxes than a retailer on main street America. That’s the wall, making the rich richer and keeping the poor in their place.
Do I walk around Versailles and think “Oh how beautiful! How impressive!” No, I don’t. I see a walled in rich family who are rich because the majority are poor. I see a statue that epitomises how oblivious the rich are to the general public’s needs and wants. I see history repeating itself.
There is relevancy between historical revolutions, such as the French Revolution of 1789, and the occupy movement. The only difference between now and then is that the royalty of today don’t wear crowns, they dress in suits or $1,000 bird print blouses.