"Eat the rich!"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Feb 2 16:43:49 UTC 2014

On Feb 2, 2014, at 10:50 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:

> In 1982 or '83 I began to see examples this unusually radical call to arms
> chalked in various places around campus. Being neither rich nor especially
> hungry, I ignored them.
> Then P. J. O'Rourke published a book titled _Eat the Rich_ in 1998.
> Today a CNN commentator observed that the President's State of the Union
> address was "not an 'eat-the-rich' speech."
> A look at GB and Barry Popik's "Big Apple" blog reveals that the phrase has
> been attributed to "the Chinese," "Victor Hugo," and "Rousseau."  It does
> not appear in YBQ or DMP.
> Sir Archibald Alison (_History of Europe_, II , ed. 2 [Edinburgh:
> Blackwood, 1835], 424) quotes the radical Pierre Chaumette as having thus
> cited or paraphrased Rousseau on Oct. 14, 1793:
> "Rousseau has said, when the people have nothing to eat, they will eat the
> rich."
> So did Rousseau (1712-1778) really say it?  Or does credit go to Chaumette?
> And if so, what (if anything) did Rousseau say on the subject?
And if it really does come down to us from the French, what was the proposed sauce?


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