Today, I start with a somewhat not terribly simple concept, but a comparison of the reasons for the French Revolution and today’s social and political climate in America. First, a little history, a short list of facts worth noting.
The French Revolution began in 1789 when the united people of the Third Estate aka Revolutionaries (more on this below) stormed the infamous Bastille prison. After the New Republic/People’s unexpected victory against a bunch of Prussian mercenaries (the best money could buy back then, kind of like Blackwater today but without all of the messy and unnecessary war crimes and human rights violations) at the Battle of Valmy, named after the small French village where the battle took place, the Revolutionaries were newly emboldened to formally end the monarchy and establish the First French Republic. In January of 1793 the now former monarch, Louis XVI was executed. The end.
But what led to this uprising in a seemingly stable country that had lived for centuries in a kingdom and under a crown that sat on a most likely golden throne? The best answer is Social Inequality.
In the 1780s, the French population was divided into three estates. The First Estate was the Roman Catholic clergy (religion). The Second Estate embodied the French nobility (the rich and powerful). The Third estate was everybody else. Doctors, lawyers, merchants, laborers, you know, everybody that actually worked for a living. At the time of the Revolution, it is estimated Estate #3 contained 98% of the population. That leaves 2% for First and Second Estate. The Estates that cast shame and ridicule down upon the 98% every chance they got. Just like the 1% today, but without the wigs and fancy clothing.
The next best reason (and comparison) is the unfair Tax Burden placed upon the Third Estate, the Estate that had too little money. The class living paycheck to paycheck, if they had had paychecks back then. But you get the idea. In an almost eerie resemblance to modern day America, the wealthy First Estate (Church) paid, you guessed it, no taxes. Seems they’ve been pulling this scam for a long time. The Second and well-fed rich Estate, you guessed it again, were exempted from paying most taxes due to their position as landowners, or in those days, as the employers. And, were, in fact, able to directly tax the peasants who worked/lived on their land.
Now, I’m sure, you are three for three. In short, while the first two Estates were for all intents and purposes exempt from paying taxes (aka their fair share), the burden to replace the lost funds were placed upon the Third Estate. The Estate that was already deciding whether to pay for life-saving medications or food, just as if they had Big Pharma back then.
Throw in the ineffective leadership at the top, as in Louis XV and Louis XVI and Donald I, the inability of French Parliament to enact reforms favorable to the Third Estates, think Congress, the Senate and Moscow, or if you prefer Paris Mitch, and voila! Revolution is in the air. In France, not here, but maybe here. Soon.
The last and I believe best reason for the French Revolution is the price (or scarcity) of Bread. It’s one thing to be shut out of positions of power and looked down upon by the other estates, but it’s quite another to be starved to death at the same time. Have you checked the price of bread lately? It seems to be rising and “Let them eat coal.” isn’t going to work.
Did you get your fill of Phil?