The American Devolution: Some Perspective on Present Discontent

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, the perennial French diplomat, once quipped that those who have not lived in the eighteenth century before the Revolution do not know the sweetness of living.  If the self-appointed representatives of the so-called 99 percent win the day, and if the squalor that they bring with them is indicative of what their victory portends, then a comparable quip may be warranted for our own time. Unlike the motley assemblage that presently occupies various public spaces throughout the country, Talleyrand was born into a world where a veritable 1 percent actually existed.  That world was known as l'Ancien Régime, and the 1 percent -- by some reckonings as much as 2 percent -- who occupied its upper echelons were known as la noblesse française.   What distinguished the French nobility was not simply the wealth they possessed, but the privileges they enjoyed.  Nobles were entitled to stand trial in separate courts and, if...(Read Full Article)

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