History repeating itself (again)?

I just viewed the television film, “Louis XVI, the man who did not want to be King.”

Louis was only twenty when he found himself the unwilling king of France. Immature, anti-social and awkward, he is at a loss at what to do. He relies on a succession of advisers, who pull Louis to and fro in confusion, while at the same time other factions are determined to profit from his lack of acumen.

All through this film I continued to think of how closely it parallels our economic and political problems in the United States today.

We have a leader who clearly wants to do the right thing by his people. Yet he sometimes appears indecisive, conciliatory, and continues to change counsel. He is faced with a parliament (congress) that stubbornly rejects everything and anything he wants to accomplish, and an increasingly frustrated and unhappy public,effectively demonstrated by our messy Occupy Wall Street manifestations throughout the country. And while our president should not be blamed for all our problems, it is upon his shoulders that the blame ultimately falls.

We have the tea party idea so neatly expressed in the picture, that there are three groups, or estates. The first estate is the church. All the high ranking clergy belongs to the nobility which is convenient. This estate is important and necessary in that the clergy is necessary to crown a monarch and also to pray for the monarchy. That is the church’s contribution to the welfare of the country.  The nobility (read the rich), comprise the second estate and their value is in that they oversee the welfare of the country. It is the third estate, the rest of us,whose beholden duty it is to support the first two estates through our loyalty, our labor, our taxes and our donations.

France’s financial situation at the time is so bad that, in searching for more income, someone actually mentions the heretical idea of taxing the church. Taxing the church is immediately cast aside as too ridiculous for serious consideration. That leaves the princes of blood (the rich) and the working class. The nobility isn’t about to give up any of its income or power. Ridiculous idea. They are God’s chosen leaders.The way the system is set up is.the natural order of things. That’s God’s plan. That leaves the working classes, if they can find work.

And lastly, as the picture points out, the court at Versailles lives in a bubble, completely isolated from the reality of the world around it. Our representatives and senators appear to be living in the same sort of impregnable bubble. They will not or cannot hear the voice of the public. When an adviser points out to the king the excess of one prince who used over 160 horses for a little personal visit to the countryside, the king can only say, “But we have over 2,000”.

The man who did not want to be king is a beautifully produced film, well told and beautifully photographed. If I’m allowed one little complaint, I personally felt Louis was a little on the thin side. I always picture him as a bit on the chubby side. (Think my personal favorite, Robert Morley). Besides, although I won’t mention his name, Louis XVI looks a great deal like a popular American comic (to me at least.).

Louis’ weakness and lack of self-confidence, however, are well-expressed in his facial and body language, as well as in his speech.

King Louis XVI found himself in the unfortunate position of being at a total loss in his new position. Indecisive and insecure, he allowed himself to be pushed and pulled from every side, a matter of too many cooks in the kitchen. The cooks came and went while the country simply went.

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