Will The American Aristocracy Please Step Forward

There comes a time in the life of every country when we must acknowledge the existence of, and the need for, a social group to provide example, guidance, and influence in society and government. Egalitarian as we Americans like to think we are, we nevertheless informally nominate, elevate, consecrate, and hold in high(er) esteem, members of a cultural and sometimes political elite: our celebrities, our entrepreneurs, and to a less extent members of our ‘aristocracy’.

While some would deny, protest, or bristle at the word, we need to admit that we do have an aristocracy, as fluid, loosely organized, opaque, and untitled as it may be. If you don’t believe we have one, fine, have it your way. I’m simply advocating the need for a new and/or improved one.

It will require society to first understand the term and then redefine the term. It will require new aristocrats to step forward and behave differently. America is, inevitably, growing up. It is necessary that we amend our social institutions in order to reflect new sensibilities, new realities, and new requirements.

I’ll delineate briefly the logic behind this scandalous proposal, and articulate the benefits it may confer upon the nation.

First is the benefit of Example. The new aristocracy would replace or at least supplement celebrities as models of behavior for society as a whole. Entertainers and athletes who be required to step aside–not down–and allow room for First Citizens–my name for this group–to step forward.  Let’s face it: most entertainers and athletes are good at what they do. Few have exhibited the same expertise in behaving well in public that they have on the stage or on the field. They can’t be expected to: wealth and recognition are new to them. The public needs more qualified role models from which to learn.

Speech, etiquette, dress–all the Old Money attributes we advocate on this blog–would be presented by the living, breathing, day in and day out example of The First Citizen. The challenge for Old Money individuals and families would be to assume a more public role: people need to see these attributes in action in order to understand them and emulate them. Charity affords the most appropriate way to do this: when a First Citizen donates money to a school or hospital, they can take the time to introduce themselves to teachers, students, nurses, and patients. This is not grandstanding. This is teaching by example, inspiring by exposure. It needs to be done more often, tastefully, but publicly.

Second, First Citizens should embody Moderation. They should be a moderating influence in the political climate of a democracy. Tempers flare. Opinions can be hard and sharp. Drastic actions, which may be the right of every person, may not be in the best interest of all the people.

The First Citizen must, of course, be well-educated, well-read, and well-traveled. He or she will have an informed perspective on history, human nature, business, freedom and tyranny. These are the fundamental issues of daily life in the world. They must balance the passions of a free people with the rules of law that every society must have in order to remain free.

Most basic of these is the sufficient safety net of money, food, and shelter to afford the less fortunate and working classes survival, assistance, and the opportunity to improve their lives. In turn, the same society should afford enough reward and incentive to wealth creators to invest and create jobs, good, and services–value–in society. Taxes and regulations should be well-considered, with public safety paramount. Unscrupulous business practices do more harm than wars.

The First Citizen must curb his or her zeal for unregulated capitalism and speculation as well as  unchecked authoritarianism and beaurocracy. A public too dependent on the state will forget the value of hard work. Entrepreneurs too free of regulation will forget the importance of fair play and the essential role government plays in managing and preserving markets.

Third, there is Courage. Circumspect and discreet, the First Citizen can honor his or her obligation to set an example and calm the political waters in times of temporary turbulence. However, the history of democracies hint strongly that there will inevitably come a Time of Tyranny. The First Citizen can be many things, but they cannot be out of touch, viewing the world through the myopic lens of privilege.

They must have the honesty and fortitude to to know that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it may very well be a clear and present danger to democracy. This is the time for a First Citizen to discard the lesser loyalties and labels of political party or ideology. It is a critical time for the members of the American Aristocracy to close ranks and come together as a single social and political voice. When tyranny will not heed the persistent calls of ‘Enough’ from the public, or will not alter or correct a corrupt system (campaign finance laws come to mind) then the aristocracy of our country must unite and bring the full force of its moral authority, considered opinion, and very real influence to the front.

This opinion and its consequent actions must at all times reflect genuine concern for the overall, long term good of the people as a whole. Self interest and self preservation are secondary considerations for a First Citizen. Often, their forefathers have seen to the financial well-being of their descendants’ current lives of privilege. The nagging pull of ‘more’ or ‘profit’ or ‘acquisition’ should have long since been put to rest. If it persists, go, young one, into business and compete. Work, profit, acquire, but in doing so consider yourself a person of business and not an aristocrat.

You cannot be both, and it is obvious why: the time is soon coming when a First Citizen will be asked–oh, required–to step up. Tyranny, costumed in conservative or liberal clothing, will soon enough show its face…and its teeth. Violence, resulting from injustice, may be met with martial law and violations of citizens’ rights. Authority will make its play for power. A person of business will have to consider his profits and his property. An aristocrat, only his people.

Therefore, the aristocrat, the First Citizen, should be comfortable with his or her state of affairs. Nothing the state could expose should concern him or her in the least. There should be a complete immunity from blackmail or extortion. The First Citizen should be completely comfortable with his finances. They should be well-managed, diverse, and secluded in safe havens. The government will seek to bankrupt or confiscate assets of its enemies for reasons just or fabricated. It may conversely seek to bribe and corrupt those not wholly on board with its agenda.

An aristocrat will be immune to both. He is financially independent and controlled in his expenditures. His attention and resources can therefore be used to their best advantage, not obligated to burdensome luxuries or distracted with shortages of cash. This First Citizen is liquid, mobile, and self sufficient in purse and in person, able and willing to commit time, money, influence, energy, reputation, and even his life, to defending the ideals of liberty.

It may or may not be said that an aristocrat is a friend of the people; but it should be said that an aristocrat was a friend to the people. The aristocrat is the first to enjoy the privileges of his position. his money, his luxuries, his freedom from worry; his access to advantage in many realms. Correspondingly, he must also be the first to stand and speak, to fight when warranted, to die if necessary, when the rights of any of his countrymen are abridged. This is the double-edged sword of nobility: if you find it to sharp or heavy to pick up and carry, leave it be for a better person who may come later.

To those of you who burn with ambition, make your fortune and put it to the use of patriots. To those who yearn for purpose, take your family’s fortune, nourish and protect those in your care. To those of you who dare to glory, risk your fortune and all you hold dear–follow Washington, Jefferson, Adams, look to Frederick Douglas, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Revive their ideals. Restore those same ideals at the forefront our national psyche with your words, with your example, and with your actions.

When our Founding Fathers wrote that “all men are created equal” and promoted the concept of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, their words rang out over national boundaries, over centuries of time. The same resonance is there when we recall the words, “I have a dream.” We have ample role models to draw upon when we look to men who signed their name to dangerous documents and spoke challenging truths. They became our aristocracy by not by birth or title, but by vision and bravery.

We need First Citizens. We need those educated in private schools to now advocate for the public good and, in doing so, turn the tide of history. We need our American Aristocracy to step forward, be they reluctant or eager, well-spoken or shy, faults, contradictions or preferences be damned. This is no time and no position for the timid. And you do not come from timid stock.

Step up. Step forward. Lead the way.

  • BGT



16 thoughts on “Will The American Aristocracy Please Step Forward

  1. Perhaps being a First Citizen is an acquired skill rather than a privileged condition.
    Perhaps anyone can become a First Citizen, by setting an example and standing up for opportunity, diversity and justice.
    Perhaps the greatest strength in humans is indeed that “all men are created equal”, and equipped with something which we often forget: a good heart.

  2. I agree yet as I oft genuflect to my forefathers, I cannot help but notice that mine silently espoused a separatism of sorts; conducive to neither stepping out nor stooping down. Those whom we are to lead, bereft of any sense of noblesse oblige, are constantly plotting ways to rapaciously grift us of our hard won resources & care little for our values. Noblesse oblige is fulfilled by our taxable rate and what tithe we give, and thus ameroliarates our compunctions over abandoning the public square. We have very little in regards to social media presence (I have none) which seems to be the primary platform for and impetus behind social change these days. Our void in the public square (Facebook) is filled by the 1st gen parvenus and “still striving” types. Carping and pettifogging fill the airwaves and the silence of our leadership is deafening. We look upon the public as Dante looked upon Hell’s Gate: “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.”

    1. wfbjr: I found your comments very interesting. Never has being a “traditionalist” or “separatist” put someone further away from the public square than for those who do not have a social media presence. It will take a major sea change among the old money set (embracing social media) in order for this to change. And I hope it does because we need your input and guidance!

    2. Thanks, WFBjr. Yes, it’s always difficult to know how to promote ideas and influence the public without going down that slippery slope of social media. Here’s to striking a balance…and to a great 2018. Your comments are greatly appreciated. – BGT

  3. I’m a first-time commentor here, but I’ve been reading for a long while; I enjoyed _The Old Money Book_ and _The Old Money Guide to Marriage_ quite a bit, and mostly agree with their recommendations. But I can’t say that I agree with this post…

    I’m too young to have lived in that period, but my understanding is that the post-WWII cultural reforms created a US civil society in which Roman Catholic values and an old-money aristocracy were deeply embedded in the social structure: American Integralism, you could call it. But the larger society threw off the Integralist order in 1968, and in the years surrounding it.

    I’m a practicing Catholic, but I push back strenuously against those who dream of restoring the Catholic influence in the US without understanding why it failed. If a system collapses at the first solid blow, it was already hollow and rotten; a living social system, like a living tree, fights back against its attackers. American Integralism was flawed from the beginning, if the first generation that grew up under it rejected it so comprehensively; fighting to bring it back unchanged is a waste of time.

    Your proposal is less ambitious than a full-fledged desire for Integralism, but I think it makes the same mistake: it looks back to the same postwar system, which collapsed in about 20 years. Why do you think that a new round of old-money leadership would be tolerated by the populace, instead of the Left rejecting it as white privilege and the Right as limousine liberalism?

    1. Thank you for the comment, Ex, and welcome. Good point. I don’t really envision a rehash of the same stale elitism, but I do think some leadership with the values and attributes of Old Money culture would serve society well right now.

      A lot of Old Money sons and daughters served the country well from the post WWII era through the Civil Rights era. And while I think there was a lot to rebel against in the 1960s, I think we might have thrown ‘the baby out with the bathwater’ in a few ways.

      I hope you’ll continue to follow the blog and contribute. Much appreciated. – BGT

  4. Robert Mueller, I think, has done so and epitomizes this to the fullest extent. I hope he is not the last of a breed.

  5. Hello Byron.

    First time poster, long-time reader.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed “The Old Money Book” and this blog.

    Your call-to-arms is very appropriate for this age, particularly when we see the leader of the free world behaving as he does and the on-line information streams only lauding the lavish spending of so-called celebrities.

    This article reminds me of an essay I read by Han-Hermann Hoppe entitled, “Natural Elites, Intellectuals, and the State.” Well worth a read as a follow up to your piece; it can be found at mises.org.

    The principles and values that you advocate for used to be found in the syllabus of most of the higher education institutions of the western world; unfortunately, today, those institutions have ceased being the places that were primarily focused on building a thinking, cognizant human who contributed to the betterment of humankind. Instead, these institutions now produce semi-humanoid beings intent on building and commercializing the next great app that will rake in millions of dollars, regardless of the effect on humanity in general or the effect of those riches on the inventors in particular.

    Keep up the great posts!

  6. Hello Byron,

    I’ve read “The Old Money Book” twice and thoroughly enjoy your blog. This post reminded me of a something I came across years ago that was written by Edmund Burke in 1791:

    “To be bred in a place of estimation; to see nothing low and sordid from one’s infancy; to be taught to respect one’s self; to be habituated to the censorial inspection of the public eye;

    to look early to public opinion; to stand upon such elevated ground as to be enabled to take a large view of the widespread and infinitely diversified combinations of men and affairs in a large society;

    to have leisure to read, to reflect, to converse; to be enabled to draw and court the attention of the wise and learned, wherever they are to be found;

    to be habituated in armies to command and to obey; to be taught to despise danger in the pursuit of honour and duty;

    to be formed to the greatest degree of vigilance, foresight, and circumspection, in a state of things in which no fault is committed with impunity and the slightest mistakes draw on the most ruinous consequences;

    to be led to a guarded and regulated conduct, from a sense that you are considered as an instructor of your fellow-citizens in their highest concerns, and that you act as a reconciler between God and man;

    to be employed as an administrator of law and justice, and to be thereby amongst the first benefactors to mankind;

    to be a professor of high science, or of liberal and ingenious art;

    to be amongst rich traders, who from their success are presumed to have sharp and vigorous understandings, and to possess the virtues of diligence, order, constancy, and regularity, and to have cultivated an habitual regard to commutative justice:

    these are the circumstances of men that form what I should call a natural aristocracy, without which there is no nation.”

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