“Let them eat cake”

I was the other day defending the right of business owners to manage their own business as they see fit without intrusion from third parties (namely, the State) when this person threw at me the phrase “Let them eat cake.” Supposedly, when somebody told Marie Antoinette that the peasants had no bread, her response was “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.” Being la brioche way more expensive than bread, this would have proved how disconnected from her subjects’ reality the queen was.

However, the phrase “Let them eat cake” was written years before by Rousseau, to illustrate how oblivious an imaginary princess was to the needs of the commoners. Many years later, it was falsely attributed to Marie Antoinette, who, paradoxically, was a philanthropist very involved in charities to help the poor, and as such very aware of the prices of bread and cake. But that is the beauty of rhetoric: it does not need to be true or even close to reality. Progressives are very good at it, and they use it every time they have no logical argument (which is practically always).