Attention in the FairTax thread turned, as it so frequently does among leftists, to Walmart, “the evil empire.” Yes, they actually called it that. The assumption was that Walmart workers would be made even poorer, and the old Marie Antoinette quote was trotted out and put in the mouths of Walmart: “Let them eat cake.” I’ll skip the maligning of Walmart that followed. But…I commented that the Voltaire quote was mis-attributed. It was not said by the man named Marie. It was by the woman named Stephen. And it was a summation by his biographer of Voltaire’s attitude. I’d written about this a few years ago.

Pete mentioned that an Adam Smith (of The Wealth of Nations fame) actually said something that is frequently attributed to Karl Marx. I agreed: the Adam Smith line, “Landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed,” was indeed quoted by Marx out of its original context, and it is now often attributed to him. But Smith was hardly a god, and his ideas about creating wealth, while largely correct, were utterly rejected by Marx.

@Pete, who wrote: “The thing about the Marie Antoinette quote, though, is if she didn’t say it, she should have done. It works on the level of wit, even if apocryphal.”

Fake but Accurate

Amusingly, a news source a few years ago sued and won for the right to lie to their audiences, including (and specifically focused on) fabricating quotes that they “honestly believed” might be something their target would say, which is what “Stephen” did for Voltaire.

In Internet mythology, it was Fox News that “won the right to lie.” That never happened, and the case was actually Mother Jones Magazine instead. I was in the courtroom, though only involved in the case very peripherally indeed.

So, the Voltaire quote is “fake but accurate.”

Queen and Love


But unlike the Voltaire quote, which paraphrases things he did say and seems to be a fair summation of his position, the Queen’s quote seems utterly disconnected from what she was like as a person, and the way she thought about her role and her people. They loved her, too … until convinced otherwise, which enabled them to drag her through the streets after that mock trial.

The only justice, perhaps, is that the same mock trial process wound up killing off most of the people involved with the killing of Marie. She had been convicted of ridiculous “sins against humanity,” such as seducing her own very young son. By a short time later, the terrorists were convicting each other on the spot for nothing at all. And the guillotine sang all day…

Her moving final letter to her sister, forgiving her executioners and expressing once again her devotion to her subjects, is rather touching. And utterly incompatible with the famous quote, long known to have been fabricated for political purposes.

Reign and Paine

The Reign of Terror, happily (sort of) ate the terrorists who spawned it; they killed each other off on any pretext at all. One person who escaped that voracious process, surprisingly, was Thomas Paine. By the time the royalty was paraded before the assembled “judges,” Paine (who had traveled to France to be part of it) had become disgusted with the Glorious Revolution, and was one of few who voted to spare the life of King Louie. So they killed the King anyway, and threw Paine in jail. They never got around to executing him before most of them were dead — shortened by the French Razor.

Ah, but the media propaganda process was still in operation, and Paine died as an absolutely hated man in the US. It was quite some time before he became accepted here.

His most famous (to us, now) writings, of course, involved taxation … which brings us back to the topic.

==============/ Keith DeHavelle