Plus ça change, plus …

Published October 10, 2014 by A.J.B. Johnston

Maybe it’s because I have spent a lot of years studying the 18th century — yes, maybe that’s all it is — but I am constantly struck by how our current era seems to be moving headlong toward the same kind of economic and class separation that existed in the latter stages of the Ancien Régime. The gap between rich and poor, powerful and powerless, grows with each passing week, month and year. Everyone knows it, yet what is to be done? We have to find ways to alter the galloping imbalance or it will not end in a good way. The end of the Ancien Régime tells us that. What sparks this comment right now, far from a new idea, is that I recently crossed the country by air. As I passed through the front of the plane, where the “elite and super elite” stretch out in their 21st-century sedan chairs, while the rest of us parade to the back in our sardine-packed chairs, made me think of the world as it was, and is becoming so again.

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