The Case for an Aristocracy
I recently attended a bioethics seminar on gene enhancement. One participant was making an argument against because it could potentially create class division. I challenged his position as being an argument for egalitarianism rather than a case against the morality of gene enhancement per se. The debate moved on and yet the moment stuck with me. Why is there such a push for equality? Why do we want everyone to be at the same level with the same income?
Do we not see this all around us in western society? Here are some examples:
1) Teachers no longer (or rarely) dress up (dress shirt and tie) but look like their students.
2) A father bragged to me recently that his pastor never wore a suit but jeans and a t-shirt when he preached the Sunday sermon.
3) Our own Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, refuses to wear a tie, but keeps his shirt unbuttoned and roles up his sleeves. Further, he built his cabinet not on expertise but on
genitalia, to wit, an equal number of males and females (of course as soon as one claims to be transgendered he'll run into trouble).
4) Women often dress like men.
5) Women are being recruited in special advertisements to the Canadian Armed Forces not for the purpose of recruiting excellent talent, but to have a more equal gender number.
6) Feminists cry out for equal pay and equal opportunity. (Note however, that it is only equal opportunity for executive jobs - they are not fighting for an equal amount of women garbage men or ditch diggers).
7) The Leftist cry to have a sodomite union called 'marriage'.
Where is this cry for equality coming from?
Ayn Rand in her famous book Atlas Shrugged develops the antagonists around this very theme. James Taggart, the President of Taggart Transcontinental Railroads, and his cronies pass resolutions to take down successful capitalists for the purpose of creating an atmosphere of equality. They reason that the successful capitalist prevents competition and therefore should be brought to his knees and sacrificed so that by removing his business it'll
create an equal space for other, less competent business to compete on. Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden are viscerally disgusted with the mediocracy around and fight to be a class about the rest. Ayn Rand completes the journey with socialism taking over the country and destroying incentive, creative thought, work ethic and finally the country itself. Her solution: The Benedict Option! She moves her industrialists into a mountain hideaway to await there until society falls into chaos and then the industrialist will ride in and save the day.
The popular BBC series Downtown Abby addressed this egalitarian cry as well. The Crawly family, aristocrats with a beautiful palace and much land, struggle to remain and keep their privileged position, values and traditions after the war despite a popular sentiment to bring them down to their own level.
What Atlas Shrugged and Downtown Abby both have in common is their attempt to justify inequality.
So is there a case for inequality? In the home? In society?
When considering the dignity of the human person, all men are equal in the sight of God. When considering the worthiness of a specific individual then there is vast inequality. Men and women are different. They think differently, act differently, and are motivated differently. This is a good thing. Males are different from each other. Some are sluggards and not worthy of the title 'man' and some work hard, live virtuously and become very successful. This was Rand's contention, to wit, inequality is the product of diversity. It is the product of some folk working hard and being successful and others not. Let's build the case for inequality by looking at the Aristocracy:
What did the Aristocracy bring to society that the common peasant did not?
2) Magnificent palaces, abby's, castles
3) High standards of quality
4) Manners and decorum
5) Respect insofar as the common man had to address them as 'M'Lord'
6) Fantastic food
7) Appreciation of fine art, wine, music, literature
8) Leisure spent in a fine and divine way (see my video on Educating for Leisure)
9) The importance of the family mealtime
All of these items have one thing in common - they are beautiful. If there is one thing that the inequality of having an Aristocracy brought to a society, it was beauty. This alone is enough as beauty is that which needs to be pursued for its own sake and will in and of itself lead us to Author of beauty, Beauty Itself.
What does equality do? It dummies down everything to a common denominator. It strips away femininity and would have women look and act like men and men to look and act effeminate. It sacrifices beauty for utility and saving money. We no longer build bridges to look beautiful or build majestic cathedrals. If one walks downtown, the only buildings that are not tall, square and ugly are the ones build hundreds of years ago. Why do we love to wander around downtown Vienna or Prague? Because hundreds of years ago the Aristocracy built beautiful castles.
Why are our families breaking down?
With the loss of the Aristocracy we lost the importance of the dinner meal and the kitchen hearth was replaced with a television. Why do we have intermediate schools drowning in vulgar language, debase conversation and irreverence? We have teachers trying to be their friends, dressing like the students and flattening what should be a natural and much needed hierarchy.
Equality results in utility. Utility shirks beauty.
So let us resist socialism, support a hierarchy and parent our children to acknowledge, respect and support legitimate authority. Thank God for the Catholic Church!