Alex Massie

Marie Antoinette: Under-Rated!

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Foreign Policy's Blake Hounshell deplores knee-jerk contrarianism and lists 10 Contrarian Arguments He Never Wants to Hear. Among them:

Let Them Eat Cake: How a Delicious Dessert Could Save the World's Poor.

This seems unfair. Marie Antoinette's famous advice was, if memory serves, given out of compassion and understanding, not aristocratic contempt for the urban poor. As I say, if my recollection is correct  -perhaps readers can help? - it was occasioned by protests over the shortage - and hence increasing price - of bread in Paris. That being so, she said, perhaps the people might consider changing their diet until the price of bread returned to a more comfortable level. Perfectly sensible stuff, really. Then again, the French interior ministry would keep a beady eye upon bread prices for 200 years - it being seen as a key indicator of looming social unrest of general grumpiness.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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