“When the earth is suffering from too heavy a burden, there are mysterious groanings of the shades, to which the abyss lends an ear.” — Les Miserables, p. 304.
When Victor Hugo wrote this, he was describing Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. Napoleon was deemed too powerful, too great, too “large” of a person to be tolerated by the earth. His magnitude and his striving to expand and control could not be sustained and ultimately led to his downfall.
As I read this passage, I could not help comparing Napoleon to the corporations of today. It appears that we have large, powerful, faceless entities fighting each other, seeking to expand and gain more control over people and resources. Already, one can sense the “groanings of the shades,” as the burden of sustaining these corporations increases. How much more can be withstood before the abyss finally responds to the pleas? I hope we never find out.