1774 August 24
Louis XVI, King of France ,
Having just left Your Majesty's room, still full of the anxiety produced by the immensity of the burden you place upon me, overcome by the touching kindness with which you have deigned to encourage me, I hasten to convey to you my respectful gratitude and the absolute devotion of my whole life.
Your Majesty has been good enough to authorize me to put in writing the promise you have made to uphold me in the execution of those plans for economy that are at all times, and to-day more than ever, of an absolute necessity . ...
At this moment, Sire, I confine myself to recalling to you these three phrases: No bankruptcy; No increase of imposition; No borrowing.
No bankruptcy either avowed or disguised by arbitrary reduction (of interest on public stock).
No increase of impositions; the reason for this lies in the plight of your subjects, and still more in Your Majesty's heart.
No borrowing; because every loan always diminishes the unanticipated revenue and necessitates, in the long run, either bankruptcy or an increase in taxes.
There is only one way of fulfilling these three aims: that of reducing expenditure below receipts, with a view to the redemption of long-standing debts. Failing this, the first gunshot will drive the State to bankruptcy.
It will be asked, “On what can we retrench?” and all officials, speaking for their own departments, will maintain that every particular item of expenditure is indispensable. They will be able to put forward very good reasons; but since the impossible cannot be achieved, all these must yield to the absolute necessity of economy.
Your Majesty is aware that one of the greatest obstacles to economy is the multiplicity of demands by which you are constantly besieged, and which have unfortunately been sanctioned too indulgently by your predecessors.
It is necessary, Sire, to arm yourself against your kindness by a greater kind-heartedness, by considering whence comes this money which you are able to distribute to your courtiers, and by comparing the wretchedness of those from whom it is extracted (sometimes by the most rigorous methods) with the condition of those people who have the greatest call upon your liberality.
Anne Robert Jacques Turgot
But Louis XVI failed to give his minister his support....the courtiers attacked him for cutting the sinecures available to them, the financiers were against him for his support of free trade, the trade guilds were against him for his policy of allowing people to pursue whatever trade they wished without restriction...in short, vested interests achieved the downfall of Turgot within two years.
The situation in France is as parlous now as it was in the time of Turgot....and vested interests are equally strong
Louis XVI lasted another nineteen years before going to the guillotine.....Francois Hollande will be lucky if he lasts out the five years of his mandate, but whoever replaces him will be another tool of vested interests...not another Turgot.
The French Revolution arose in great part from the calling of a national assembly....which was enabled to voice the concerns and demands of the population.
These days there is a national assembly which claims the legitimacy to do the same....while it plays the part of the courtiers and guilds of the age of Louis XVI.
How long will our 'Ancien Regime' last?
Whence will the new legitimacy arise?
And what bloody form will it take?