Mr. Potato Head

Though the French had a series of revolutions, these were never directed against strong governments. Under Louis XIV and XV, they accepted the most outrageous degrees of royal exploitation, waste, arrogance, intolerance, and immorality without a murmur. But when the throne fell into the hands of Louis XVI, a perfectly charming, impotent, humble, and well-meaning king, whose greatest extravagance was his tender affection for flowers, they at last staged the revolution that still overwhelms posterity.

Peoples never revolt against tyrants. They only revolt against the weak.

—Leopold Kohr, The Breakdown Of Nations

When potatoes journeyed from the "new" world to the "old," some of the more far-seeing potentates of the latter saw that spuds could go far in feeding the continent's very poor people. Who had previously labored to staple-survive on such bitter fruit as chestnuts.

But, for reasons passeth contemporary understanding, the masses were, in the main, averse to these new-fangled, new-world potatoes. Believing, among other things, that they would spread leprosy.

To try to get around this popular prejudice, Louis XVI, of France, dedicated one of his royal farms to the planting of potatoes.

By day he ringed the farm with guards bristling with rifles with fixed bayonets. By night, however, the guard was, mostly, withdrawn.

The people, with their eyes always affixed on royal doings, soon figured that if the king was growing and eating potatoes, and even guarding them, potatoes must be okay—even great!—for them too.

So they stole, by night, into the king's fields, and stole potatoes. And planted them for themselves.

Just as Louie wished them to.

By the time Louis XVI went to the guillotine, potatoes had become so favored among the people that the revolutionary commune ordered that the flowers of the Tuileries be dug up, and replaced with potatoes.

It is said that Louis' head, once roughly lopped, it was tossed there, into what was once the royal flower-bed, sown now with the now-favored potatoes. That Louis himself had brought, and against their resistance, to those who—Thanatos-blind on blood-righteousness—in the end gave him the chop. Before they next turned to giving the chop, to one another.


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