The White House’s Mutation Into Versailles During the French Revolution

During the Women’s March that took place the day after inauguration on January 21, 2017, in protest against Trump and his inevitable Reign of Terror, Madonna said, “I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.” As it has turned out, there might not be a need for her to have done so as the entire institution crumbles (it takes a metaphorical crumble before a literal one arises) amid the flames that burn outside of its doors (and throughout all the land). We don’t yet know how long this revolution will persist. Looking to the past, it took ten years for the French proletariat to overthrow the monarchy, as the war between classes raged from 1789 to 1799 (change, it seems, always comes on the brink of a new century or decade), culminating in the guillotine of both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Which seems to be the direction Donnie Dodo and Melania Melanin (because her tan is just as orange as her husband’s) are headed in since, despite already retreating to a bunker, Trump is somehow less self-hating than fellow Bunker Boy, Adolf Hitler, therefore would likely not kill himself before being overpowered by the people. 

Being that, for whatever reason, people still foolishly look to America as some sort of example to follow, it bears noting that the French were spurred in their revolutionary ways by the then recent occurrence of the American Revolution from 1775 to 1783, during which the “Americans” (still British at the time–which is part of why these two countries remain so up each other’s assholes with respective obsequiousness) freed themselves from the monarchical rule of “Great” Britain to establish the United States of America with their thirteen colonies (since that time, it has unofficially been billed as the Divided States of America, as everyone’s “freedom” of ideology has caused a cluster fuck of clashes).

The French, of course, had their own unique and decided way of doing things when it came to rebellion–therefore, it was not a war, but an insidious and indefatigable display of resistance and subterfuge, anteing up on violence in the later years of the insurrection. Yet even at the outset, the events that punctuated the shift toward a democratic republic were momentous. Including the Women’s March on Versailles in 1789–because, yes, Women’s Marches have always been powerful as one should never–ever–underestimate the fury of a woman scorned.

The march consisted of women initially joining forces in the Paris marketplace at Faubourg Saint-Antoine, as their caustic moods aligned after being made ready to riot as a result of the scarcity and high price of bread (do not fuck with a French person’s bread supply). So it was that they joined up with other revolutionaries along the way as the crowd surged into thousands of people willing to march all the way to Versailles to air their grievances–proving that hunger and distance are no match for unbridled rage as it took roughly six hours to walk there. Something one imagines the protesters in America being capable of at this moment in time as they storm the White House in much the same way.

It’s only a matter of time before their measures escalate in the face of Trump’s seeming paralysis, his refusal to address their sheer contempt, and where it stems from. A contempt that is not only for him, but the so-called System and centuries of letting the proverbial knee on their back crush them into oblivion. But every “Third Estate” has their breaking point. And it’s been reached once again in 2020 America. Which feels, incomprehensibly like it’s still ultimately in 1960 America, when the same racism was tolerated and fostered. When white supremacists were just as free to carry out their lynchings and bandy their rhetoric.  

Unfortunately, if any change is to come that will truly scare the Old Guard out of office–chase the system out of the White House altogether–what the protesters have yet to accomplish as the revolutionaries of France did in 1789 is to actually infiltrate the space where “royalty” still believes itself to be untouchable. As Trump has already threatened anyone thinking about scaling the wall that they will be met with “vicious dogs,” he must have some vague awareness in those faintly moving brainwaves of his that the people are aiming to do what they did to Louis XVI. Though it’s unclear if he himself actually knows who that is, or that the French Revolution ever happened and is frequently regarded as the single-most important event in the progress of democracy. That they have designs to fuck “his” house up the way he’s fucked up theirs. Louis XVI, ultimately, was intelligent enough (or maybe stupid enough, if for the purposes of allowing monarchy to continue to shine) to let a number of the “peasants” inside the palace to commune with them. Even Marie Antoinette was forced to reckon with a preliminary firing squad, so to speak. 

Their ephemeral placations were helped by agreeing to return to the Tuileries Palace, which the royal family felt was impossibly dreary in comparison to their precious Versailles. It was inside the Tuileries, though, that Louis resignedly asked one of his servants to bring him a book containing information on Charles I, the infamously executed King of England. So yes, at least Louis had some idea of his fate. It seems as though Trump remains completely in denial about what his “subjects” have in store for him–that is, if they’re willing to take this revolution all the way.

It should be noted, of course, that when the monarchy was toppled, what cropped up in its place was a dictatorship from Napoleon. So yeah, when you surmount one hurdle, there’s still likely another just as shitty one right after it despite any short-lived feelings of “triumph” or “victory.” Even so, it established a new social contract–one that, as Trevor Noah recently pointed out, is no longer being honored by those who are protesting and looting because those in charge have not upheld their end of the implied bargain.

For a society to function, the tacit implications of the contract must be beneficial enough to all parties involved in order for things to not descend into complete chaos and anarchy. With the perfect storm of inequality-based incidents mounting throughout the strange course of 2020, the White House was bound to mutate into a full-on modern iteration of Versailles, and its intrinsic symbolism of the white bourgeoisie eating cake while plundering the livelihoods of the Third Estate. In this case, black people.

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