Thursday, April 17, 2008

1,195 Horses

In her book, Marie Therese, Child of Terror, Susan Nagel makes much of the fact that in the two years before revolution, Louis XVI engaged in modest cost-cutting measures. For instance, the number of horses in the King's stables "shrank" to 1,195. This at a period when people throughout France were starving.

"Let them eat cake"? Nagel's analysis of the situation is the intellectual equivalent.

We should keep in mind the context within which Bloomsbury has published Nagel's ultra-reactionary book. The U.S. government is bankrupt. Real prices (not a dummied-up CPI) are skyrocketing across the board-- for food, energy, medical care, and education. Wages are stagnant at best, in many places in decline. The housing industry is near collapse. In Detroit, there's an ongoing strike in which workers are asked to cut their wages in half. IN HALF. Meanwhile, the high school graduation rate in the city is 25% and declining.

In short, the gap between rich and poor in America continues widening, mimicking France in 1789. As this happens, the N.Y. publishing industry issues celebrations of privilege and weeps about royalty of bygone days.

The good news is that with these egregious happenings are also opportunities for change-- beginning with the nation's philosophy; starting perhaps by overturning the mentality of the literary industry-- or relocating that industry to another city.

1,195 horses indeed!

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