I think most of you know the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” by Hans Christian Andersen. Here is a link to the whole story, if you’re not familiar with it:
Or here’s a synopsis: The emperor was vain, and loved fancy clothing. He bought a very unusual outfit: It supposedly had amazing beautiful colors, but it was only visible to wise people; it was invisible to fools. No one in the court wanted to admit that they couldn’t see the clothing. The emperor went on parade, all of his royal personage visible to everyone. And here is how Andersen’s version ends:
“But he has nothing on at all,” said a little child at last. “Good heavens! listen to the voice of an innocent child,” said the father, and one whispered to the other what the child had said. “But he has nothing on at all,” cried at last the whole people.
That made a deep impression upon the emperor, for it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought to himself, “Now I must bear up to the end.” And the chamberlains walked with still greater dignity, as if they carried the train which did not exist.
A different last paragraph seems obvious to me. I suspect this is what Andersen really had in mind, but he could not write it for fear of reprisal. Here it is:
The people realized that their emperor was a fool, and an unnecessary expense. So they overthrew him, and set up a democracy.
And of course, “emperor” is a symbol standing in for oligarchy. In real life, our own nation and all modern nations are ruled by oligarchies thinly disguised as democracies. If only the public would see past the illusion, we would overthrow the oligarchs and create a true democracy. So pass the word along: “Pssst! The emperor has no clothes!”
2019 Aug 13. (Original 2019 Jan 27.)