No one like her

Camille Paglia draws an unusual analogy from Marie Antoinette:

Has representative democracy, paralyzed by rancorous partisanship and bureaucratic incompetence, become the waning ancien régime assailed by hordes at the gates? There is an uneasy sense of siege in Europe and the United States from restive immigrant minorities who have taken to the streets or bred saboteurs. The intelligentsia seem fatigued, sapped by pointless theory, and impotent to affect events. Fervor has shifted to religious fundamentalists in both Christianity and Islam. Materialism and status anxiety (evident even in higher education, with its brand-name snobbery) have come to the fore in the glitteringly high-tech West. Yet the turbulent third world offers agonizingly stark contrasts. The Marie Antoinette story, with its premonitions of doom amid a giddy fatalism, seems to signal a pervasive guilt about near-intractable social inequities….

The return of Marie Antoinette suggests that there are political forces at work in the world that Western humanism does not fully understand and that it may not be able to control.

I find it interesting that La Paglia should reach a conclusion regarding representative democracy not dissimilar to my own, but from such a very different inspiration.