Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. (1 Samuel 8:5)
There are few words that conjure a succession of images in the mind, each more grotesque than the previous, than the word aristocracy. Some picture the wanton gluttony of the French monarchy or the terminal incompetence of the Russian Czars. It is interesting to note that while many today (but certainly not all) conflate aristocracy with monarchy, the ancients did not. Aristotle drew a distinction between the two in Politics and argued that while monarchy was ideally the best form of government, it also ran the risk of becoming the most despotic (Tyranny). He then argued that Aristocracy (rule of the qualified few) was ideal in practice if the ruling aristocrats (by no means hereditary) strove for the good of all. If they instead pursued their own interests at the expense of society, the regime became an oligarchy, not unlike the US and Canada today.
Aristocrats do not solely wield political power, they might also wield cultural power which is far more enduring. The Catholic church is a good example of this sort of “aristocracy”. While the founding fathers of the US were hostile to the idea of any ruling class based on lineage, they could not stamp out the local home grown aristocracy. But there is a vast difference between the aristocracy of the old and new. Today we have uncultured elites like the Gates and buffoons like Donald Trump. Modern elites vividly illustrate the caricature of the scheming oligarchy that Aristotle warned about. The old elites certainly pursued their interests with unwavering zeal but unlike modern elites, they also acted as the stewards of society. The idea of an aristocratic class wielding cultural power for the good of society has been expressed by a diverse set of societies throughout history. The Confucians strongly believed that the ruling class must lead by virtue and not force. Confucius believed that adhering to rituals was one way through which elites could act as the keepers of culture.
The old American elites functioned within this same capacity. Henry Ford believed that men should take pride in what they create. He famously stated that “Work is our sanity, our self respect, and our salvation”. Ford’s old fashioned views regarding work hearken back to the protestant work ethic. He passionately believed that work wasn’t just an economic activity but a moral one as well. He respected labour and paid his workers a wage that was well above the industry average at the time. Ford was anti-communist and I suspect his regard for labour stemmed from his anti-communist impulses. If industrialists like Ford refused to care for their workers the latter would then turn to the bloated nanny state for assistance. Ford also prophetically warned society about Jewish subversion whereas today’s elites are more than happy to throw their fellow whites under the bus by co-operating with Jewry. Ford was the quintessential American aristocrat: a wealthy industrialist that took it upon himself to not only contribute to the economy, but to the moral health of society.
Ford was certainly not alone in thinking this way. Andrew Carnegie ardently believed that wealth should be used for the betterment of society and built numerous public libraries to that end. He gave away $350 million (over $3 billion today) to philanthropy and believed that wealthy men who neglected their duty to help the unsuccessful died in disgrace. Interestingly enough, after the death of these great men their empires began to serve a subversive agenda. The Ford foundation began funding women’s studies departments throughout US universities and the Carnegies and Rockerfellers did so likewise. These elites understood that feminism paved the way for an intrusive totalitarian nanny state that would usurp the masculine function and provide women with resources they wouldn’t have access to in a meritocratic society. It would also provide them with cheap labour and a subservient class dependent on socialist handouts. Sam Francis said it best:
What paleoconservatism tries to tell Americans is that the dominant forces in their society are no longer committed to conserving the traditions, institutions, and values that created and formed it, and, therefore, that those who are really conservative in any serious sense and wish to live under those traditions, institutions, and values need to oppose the dominant forces and form new ones.
Francis succinctly diagnosed the malaise that currently afflicts American and Canadian society. Far from defending the traditional values that have made the US and Canada the greatest nations in the world, today’s elites (like Warren Buffett) spend their wealth funding abortions and other deviant leftist causes. If women weren’t half as solipsistic they would ponder the paradox of corporate elites (whom they are trained to despise) funding their joke of a social movement. But I’ll leave that for another post.
It is noteworthy that neither Confucius nor Aristotle were aristocrats yet argued in favour of a responsible aristocratic class. I conclude this post with more questions than solutions. How would we remove the current parasitic aristocracy in order to replace them with a more responsible one? What should this new aristocracy look like? What character traits should this new class of cultural elites possess? Do America and Canada still possess the cultural fuel required to produce men of character and integrity? I do not pretend to have the answers and I welcome your feedback.