Saturday, October 03, 2009

Comment on the Belmont Club
"The power of legend"

re: Liberty Valance, Great Minds think alike.

My parents took a trip to Russia about 10 years ago and my mother described to me how they took an Aeroflot plane between two cities. The plane and service met all expectations, being filthy and rickety looking with surly flight attendants who were bullying the passengers like they were the crew of a slave galley. Mother wanted to get off and then the pilot appeared. She described him as being like a Greek God, tall square jawed and blonde with an immaculate uniform. He marched into the cockpit and my mother said "Well if he is willing to get on this plane then I am willing to get on this plane."

In South Africa under the apartheid regime Japanese were classified as Whites but Chinese were classified as Asians. The problem with racial stratifications is that, like the groups that people are locked into under Hinduism, it is hard but not impossible for an individual to change their station by merit. In Hinduism though an entire caste could see itself rise or fall in comparison to its near peers.

In the European feudal system by comparison there was always provision for individuals to rise through merit. In France the nobility of the robe were explicitly created to recognize former commoners who had risen from the 3rd to the 2nd estate. In England the story was more complicated. While titles or pseudo titles (the baronet) were sold that debasement was resisted and the focus shifted from legal status to cultural attributes and education. The purpose of the English Public School was to train the children of the gentry to serve in the same cultural order as those of the old aristocracy. It showed the extraordinary good sense and unusual survival instincts of the remnants of the old aristocracy that they sent their own sons to the same schools and did not fight the rise, with one unfortunate exception, of the Whig gentry.

The problem for America is that the educational process is now staffed and controlled by enemies of the social and cultural order that aspiring members of the middle classes want to join. This fits the interests of members of a narrow elite that uses the educational system not to absorb and empower the communal order, as did the English elites of one to three hundred years ago, but rather to exclude and limit opportunities for the masses. This is making America more rigidly stratified than it was a century ago. While the formal discrimination against minorities, blacks jews and catholics, was very real the current situation, of a debased education and attacks on the culture of initiative and achievement, will result in less upward social mobility.

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