Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Five Old-Fashioned Values We Rightly Reject

 

After a steady diet of period films, literature, and historical nonfiction, I’ve realized that in some ways, our culture has changed dramatically in the last 250 years or so. If you or I were transported to say, 1820, and we mingled with Americans then, we would struggle to fit in. We often grouse about the loss of shared values over time, and it is true that some of the beliefs that strengthened family units and held our culture together have been eroded. However, a few of those entrenched traditional attitudes were harmful and encumbered our progress. Some of them were held in opposition to the self-evident truths proclaimed in our founding documents, or worked against the family unit, and I say good riddance. Here are some examples:

Marrying Advantageously: One is probably wise to consider a prospective mate’s financial situation (especially to the degree that they reflect work ethic). However, novelists such as Jane Austen, who were contemporaneous to rank-and riches-conscious cultures, detail for us a milieu of shameless social climbing and gold-digging. Behaviors that would today be considered tacky seemed to be somewhat acceptable then, even expected: discussing openly how many pounds a year one was given as an allowance, or whether there was an inheritance to be had. One’s spouse needed to be of the right social class, and (as one biographer argued was true of George Washington’s marriage) even calculated to move one up the social ladder. We might argue that today’s criteria for marriage, a sense of romantic connection, for example, are even flimsier than they were in the past. Even so, we ordinarily do recognize today that character, kindness, and work ethic come into play in choosing a good spouse and likelihood of a productive future together.

Looking Down on Earning One’s Wealth: The consensus today, partly evidenced by the way most Americans live their lives and discuss public figures such as Donald Trump, is that one’s living should be earned. We love stories of individuals clawing their way to a better life and frown on accounts of inherited wealth that may bequeath unfair advantages or cheat the heir of valuable life experiences. We hold up as an ideal the prospering local business whose founder started from nothing and worked long hours to move forward. In the past, however, the best people in society wrinkled their noses at honest work for those in their station. Losing one’s status and having to become a governess (a job I would enjoy) was considered a shameful event to be painfully borne. The newly wealthy of the Gilded Age were not easily welcomed into the ranks of the noble classes because they (sniff) had earned their money. Apparently, one’s position was to be considered intrinsic to the individual and not shaped by life choices and the availability of opportunities. A life of idleness was a respectable option. And the upper classes wanted to keep it that way.

Condescension Towards the Lower Classes: The upper classes saw a clear divide between themselves and those born into families without title or rank. Perhaps in more feudalistic eras, the nobility had served a function, that of providing structure and protection for those in their vicinity. However, as the world changed, the system became less necessary, even as the upper classes did what they could to preserve its advantages for themselves. Thus it was acceptable, despite feudalism being slowly replaced, for lords and ladies to stay separate from the common folk, even insisting that the masses adopt a particular manner of addressing them that would acknowledge their mutual stations. (Arguably, overt racism was allowed with the same mindset of protecting the societal structure.) Today’s America does not tolerate such affectation, and anyone who behaves as the (en)titled did in the past would be shut out of our society. In order to progress, we must live together, work together, and do what we can to encourage all of our young people to take advantage of their opportunities.

Open Snobbery Within the Ranks of the Rich: In the old days, the rich ate one another. During the Gilded Age, for example, perhaps in attempts to protect their way of life, wealthy socialites were the self-proclaimed gatekeepers of society, deciding who was in and who was out. New wealth earned through involvement with railways and industry was understandably snubbed. These people were crude, ignorant, and alien to ways of the upper crust. Also, violating strict behavior codes in the past, or even associating with the wrong people, could get one pilloried and excluded. Perhaps snubbing wasn’t effective for those who didn’t prioritize being included in the top levels of society. But for those who held rank and privilege dear, ex-communication would be devastating. Today, we are more likely to mix with almost any social group on the premise that we are all essentially the same. Such “mean girls” behavior acceptable in earlier ages is considered ugly and contemptible, and even the most celebrated among us are judged based upon whether or not they are friendly in person.

Double Standards for Male Dalliances:  Faithfulness to one’s wife was not always upheld as a virtue. Perhaps it was an ideal, but in practice, men often kept mistresses, visited brothels, or otherwise indulged in illicit encounters with other women when they were away from home. For instance, explorers of the past included journal entries that describe their exciting cross-cultural sexual experiences for posterity, apparently without much shame. As long as the naughty behavior wasn’t too open, society looked the other way for men. However, decent marriageable women and wives were held to a high standard if they were to avoid public censure. Even associating in the wrong context with a man to whom one was not married or engaged could open one to ruinous gossip. (This high standard for women was perhaps less rigid starting from the Gilded Age. Churchill’s American mother, for instance, had numerous affairs.) I am not sure when our culture began viewing adultery by either husband or wife, and even unfaithfulness in our serially monogamous affairs, as a betrayal. Men who fool around on their wives are faithless scoundrels; women in extra-marital affairs are held equally culpable. We call it “cheating” and we have a body of music that laments the heartbreak it brings. Today, news of one’s husband acquiring a mistress would shatter the wife’s ability to continue her commitment, and we would all support her decision in bringing to an end such a sham marriage.

In light of these traditions of the past that we’ve justifiably rejected, we can agree that even though our culture has decayed in some ways, we have improved in other respects. These changes, arguably, have been brought about by the influence of the Bible and its explicit teachings on the God-given dignity of every man and woman, the importance of hard work, and the lifetime commitment of marriage. But that’s a discussion for another day.

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  1. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    re Item #1, here’s Michael Chevalier, a French engineer who visited America circa 1833. After observing that the American are the most money-obsessed people he has ever met, he goes on to say:

    I ought to do the Americans justice on another point. I have said that with them everything was an affair of money; yet there is one thing which among us, a people of lively affections, prone to love and generous by nature, takes the mercantile character very decidedly and which among them has nothing of this character; I mean marriage. We buy a woman with our fortune or we sell ourselves to her for her dowry. The American chooses her, or rather offers himself to her, for her beauty, her intelligence, or her amiable qualities and asks no other portion. Thus, while we make a traffic of what is most sacred, these shopkeepers exhibit a delicacy and loftiness of feeling which would have done honor to the most perfect models of chivalry.

    So he was observing that even going that far back, Americans tended to focus less on financial aspects of marital choice than did the French.

    But, on the other hand, relating to the Snobbery point….about 10 years ago, a Black guy who was a blogger and blog commenter said that in his experience, Black women with college degrees would not consider marrying an un-degreed man, irrespective of his good qualities and his financial success in, say, a trade or a small business….and also irrespective of how lame the degree of the woman in question was.

    He also said, “Watch out, white guys! If this hasn’t happened yet in your world, it will.”

    Based on anecdotal evidence, I think this is indeed a characteristic of many white women today.

    • #1
    • June 26, 2020, at 1:52 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  2. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeekaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thus, while we make a traffic of what is most sacred, these shopkeepers exhibit a delicacy and loftiness of feeling which would have done honor to the most perfect models of chivalry.

    This is a beautiful sentence.

    David Foster: women with college degrees would not consider marrying an un-degreed man, irrespective of his good qualities and his financial success in, say, a trade or a small business….and also irrespective of how lame the degree of the woman in question was.

    I have a college degree, and my husband started one, but didn’t quite finish. He just doesn’t find it that important, and has made a living by being an excellent technician. He is capable of a broad range of work, so we won’t lack for ways to bring income. He a doer who works brilliantly with his hands, and his type is needed today. I am in awe of those qualities.

    • #2
    • June 26, 2020, at 1:58 PM PDT
    • 17 likes
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  3. Full Size Tabby Member

    We still have plenty of “Looking down on earning one’s wealth,” “Condescension toward the lower classes,” and “Open snobbery within the ranks of the rich.”

    Those values are celebrated and encouraged at the elite end of society. The only difference is that the measure has changed from how much money you were born with to which elite university you attended. Those who attend the “correct” university have nothing but contempt for those who did not. Those who get into the “correct” university reasonably expect to be able to coast through life, and to exert power over lesser people, simply because of their privileged status as having attended the “correct” university. Then again, getting into the “correct” university normally requires preexisting connections with the “correct” people in society, much of which depends on how much money you were born with. So in some ways it still goes back to how much money you were born with.

    Those of us who are in the vast middle may celebrate the prospering local business whose founder started from nothing and worked long hours to move forward. But the people who seek to exert political and social power and attended the “correct” universities to put themselves into that elite class, hold that entrepreneur in contempt. They also exhibit contempt for the skilled tradesman or laborer who dares to work with his hands rather than entering words on a computer screen. (“deplorables,” “flyover,” et al.). “Work”? Ugh! How lower class. 

    And the graduates of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and similar institutions will certainly lord that status over those who graduated from Podunk State, or didn’t graduate from college at all, or even the lesser Ivy League institutions. 

    So whether or not many people have rejected the listed old-fashioned values, those values have not been rejected by the powerful elite. Those old-fashioned values are still as much in force as they were 250 years ago. 

    • #3
    • June 26, 2020, at 3:03 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeekaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    We still have plenty of “Looking down on earning one’s wealth,” “Condescension toward the lower classes,” and “Open snobbery within the ranks of the rich.”

    Those values are celebrated and encouraged at the elite end of society.

    I would say, though, that if word got out about overt condescension, the public would be outraged. In the case of a politician showing snobbery, those voting for him would try to give explanation and context to his words that would soften the blow. Snobbery and favoritism exists, but it is not socially acceptable. We are disgusted when we find it out. 

    • #4
    • June 26, 2020, at 3:08 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. Joshua Bissey Coolidge

    sawatdeeka: Today, news of one’s husband acquiring a mistress would shatter the wife’s ability to continue her commitment, and we would all support her decision in bringing to an end such a sham marriage. 

    Uh, no, not all of us. Had the marriage been a sham, there would be no betrayal, and nothing to get upset about. Both spouses are still married to each other. The cheating spouse needs to apologize and never cheat again. The faithful spouse needs to forgive, as she herself would want to be forgiven. Marriage is a life-long commitment between an imperfect man and imperfect woman, who must love one another (not cheat), but must also forgive each other (not divorce). Infidelity is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.

     

    • #5
    • June 26, 2020, at 3:42 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  6. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeekaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Joshua Bissey (View Comment):

    sawatdeeka: Today, news of one’s husband acquiring a mistress would shatter the wife’s ability to continue her commitment, and we would all support her decision in bringing to an end such a sham marriage.

    Uh, no, not all of us. Had the marriage been a sham, there would be no betrayal, and nothing to get upset about. Both spouses are still married to each other. The cheating spouse needs to apologize and never cheat again. The faithful spouse needs to forgive, as she herself would want to be forgiven. Marriage is a life-long commitment between an imperfect man and imperfect woman, who must love one another (not cheat), but must also forgive each other (not divorce). Infidelity is not a get-out-of-jail-free card

    Joshua @thesockmonkey , I am not talking about an instance or two of infidelity. I’m talking about keeping a mistress or habitual infidelity. In that case, when the wife finds out, she is betrayed and shattered. It would be very hard to go on from there. If the husband is willing to give up his lifestyle and commit to his wife, then that would be the best thing. Adultery, though, is a biblical exception and serial adultery would be a tremendous obstacle to continuing the marriage. However, I’m acquainted with a situation where restoration happened even after unfaithfulness.

    But I agree that an instance of betrayal should not automatically end the marriage. I speak as someone who does not live out or advocate get-out-of-jail free cards for marriage.

    • #6
    • June 26, 2020, at 3:50 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  7. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeekaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    • #7
    • June 26, 2020, at 4:27 PM PDT
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  8. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Item #4…”Open Snobbery Within the Ranks of the Rich”

    Tom Watson Jr, longtime head of IBM, wrote a wonderful autobiograohy (‘Father, Son, & Co’)…he mentions that when he was young, a girl he was interested in was forbidden by her mother to get involved about him, because he didn’t come from a Good Family. While IBM was not yet the behemoth it was later to become, it was already a very successful and well-known corporation…but the IBM family wasn’t good enough because they weren’t a recognized Old Family.

    This sort of thing has largely disappeared, I think…but as has been noted above, snobbery based on educational credentials has become a serious issue.

    50 years ago, Peter Drucker wrote that a major advantage that the US had over Europe was that we didn’t have a system in which a few ‘elite’ universities monopolized the key positions in society:

    One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim…

    We as a country are a lot closer to accepting Grande Ecole status for Harvard Law School and similar institutions than we were when Drucker wrote the above.

    • #8
    • June 26, 2020, at 6:15 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  9. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    And in the Final Apocalypse, those who survive will be the ones who work with their hands, or have the skills. All those highfalutin, snobby Yale and Harvard graduates will starve, because they have been living off the labor of others their entire lives, and have no idea how to make or grow anything.

    • #9
    • June 26, 2020, at 8:37 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. Randy Webster Member

    Based on anecdotal evidence, I think this is indeed a characteristic of many white women today.

    Given the demographics, and the college graduation rates of men/women, I’d say it’s already happening.

    • #10
    • June 27, 2020, at 3:54 AM PDT
    • Like
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  11. Randy Webster Member

    sawatdeeka:

    to one’s wife was not always upheld as virtue. Perhaps it was an ideal, but in practice, men often kept mistresses, visited brothels, or otherwise indulged in illicit encounters with other women when they were away from home. For instance, explorers of the past included journal entries that describe their exciting cross-cultural sexual experiences for posterity, apparently without much shame. As long as the naughty behavior wasn’t too open, society looked the other way for men. However, decent marriageable women and wives were held to a high standard if they were to avoid public censure. Even associating in the wrong context with a man to whom one was not married or engaged could open one to ruinous gossip. (This high standard for women was perhaps less rigid starting from the Gilded Age. Churchill’s American mother, for instance, had numerous affairs.) I am not sure when our culture began viewing adultery by either husband or wife, and even unfaithfulness in our serially monogamous affairs, as betrayal. Men who fool around on their wives are faithless scoundrels; women in extra-marital affairs are held equally culpable. We call it “cheating” and we have a body of music that laments the heartbreak it brings. Today, news of one’s husband acquiring a mistress would shatter the wife’s ability to continue her commitment, and we would all support her decision in bringing to an end such a sham marriage.

    In light of these traditions of the past that we’ve justifiably rejected, we can agree that even though our culture has decayed in some ways, we have improved in other respects. These changes, arguably, have been brought about by the influence of the Bible and its explicit teachings on the God-given dignity of every man and woman, the importance of hard work, and the lifetime commitment of marriage. But that’s a discussion for another day.

    Except for #5, I think these are mostly holdovers from Britain.

    • #11
    • June 27, 2020, at 3:57 AM PDT
    • 1 like
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  12. Stad Thatcher

    sawatdeeka (View Comment):
    I have a college degree, and my husband started one, but didn’t quite finish. He just doesn’t find it that important, and has made a living by being an excellent technician.

    I worked with a lady who dropped out of college her senior year when she had her first of two children. She eventually started work at Savannah River Site for the Department of Energy (where I worked). She became knowlegeable in project controls procedures and after several courses, came to work for our project. She eventually worked her way into a position of managing several other project controls and financial management people, all without the benefit of a college degree. I once asked her if she ever thought about going back and finishing up her degree, she replied, “Thought about it, yes.”

    Trump recently made it easier for those without a college degree to get a federal job:

    https://nypost.com/2020/06/26/trump-signs-order-overhauling-federal-hiring/

    A college degree isn’t for everybody, and I’ve known some college grads that made me question whether or not they had high school diplomas . . .

    • #12
    • June 27, 2020, at 5:59 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  13. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeekaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Based on anecdotal evidence, I think this is indeed a characteristic of many white women today.

    Given the demographics, and the college graduation rates of men/women, I’d say it’s already happening.

    Some of this makes sense–it doesn’t follow that this mate selection necessarily comes from a sense of superiority. People gravitate toward those with whom they share things in common. A college-educated person might not click as well with a person who works in another field. They may have completely different conversational styles and experiences, so it’s harder to relate to one another. Shared faith and life goals may go some way in rectifying these differences, but it would probably remain a factor. 

    • #13
    • June 27, 2020, at 12:36 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Randy Webster Member

    Hypergamy will become an issue in the near future.

    • #14
    • June 27, 2020, at 1:11 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    sawatdeeka (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Based on anecdotal evidence, I think this is indeed a characteristic of many white women today.

    Given the demographics, and the college graduation rates of men/women, I’d say it’s already happening.

    Some of this makes sense–it doesn’t follow that this mate selection necessarily comes from a sense of superiority. People gravitate toward those with whom they share things in common. A college-educated person might not click as well with a person who works in another field. They may have completely different conversational styles and experiences, so it’s harder to relate to one another.

    It’s possible, though, for two people to be in the same field but at different levels. For example, doctors used to marry nurses, now, they tend to marry other doctors. Executives used to sometimes marry secretaries (and many executive secretaries are quite capable of carrying on an intelligent conversation about business), now they’re more likely to marry other executives, or lawyers.

    • #15
    • June 27, 2020, at 2:08 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Randy Webster (View Comment):
    Randy Webster

    Hypergamy will become an issue in the near future.

    Kipling wrote an interesting poem about hypergamy back in 1890, although he didn’t use that term. An imperial rescript. 

    The context was a proposal made by the then-young Kaiser Wilhelm II to establish a sort of Europe-wide socialist redistribution policy, with the aim of improving the lot of the worst-off working people. An analysis of the poem here.

    They passed one resolution: -- "Your sub-committee believe
    You can lighten the curse of Adam when you've lifted the curse of Eve.

    Translated into modern and unpoetic terminology, Kipling seems to be saying that female hypergamy drives male competitiveness, and you can’t level out the second unless you somehow eliminate the first.

    • #16
    • June 27, 2020, at 2:15 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. Randy Webster Member

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):
    Randy Webster

    Hypergamy will become an issue in the near future.

    Kipling wrote an interesting poem about hypergamy back in 1890, although he didn’t use that term. An imperial rescript.

    The context was a proposal made by the then-young Kaiser Wilhelm II to establish a sort of Europe-wide socialist redistribution policy, with the aim of improving the lot of the worst-off working people. An analysis of the poem here.

    They passed one resolution: -- "Your sub-committee believe You can lighten the curse of Adam when you've lifted the curse of Eve.

    Translated into modern and unpoetic terminology, Kipling seems to be saying that female hypergamy drives male competitiveness, and you can’t level out the second unless you somehow eliminate the first.

    I have Kipling’s complete verse by my bed. I keep meaning to read through the whole thing. The things I know about are wonderful; there have to be some other jewels buried in the rest.

    • #17
    • June 27, 2020, at 2:18 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  18. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy WeivodaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    sawatdeeka (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Based on anecdotal evidence, I think this is indeed a characteristic of many white women today.

    Given the demographics, and the college graduation rates of men/women, I’d say it’s already happening.

    Some of this makes sense–it doesn’t follow that this mate selection necessarily comes from a sense of superiority. People gravitate toward those with whom they share things in common. A college-educated person might not click as well with a person who works in another field. They may have completely different conversational styles and experiences, so it’s harder to relate to one another. Shared faith and life goals may go some way in rectifying these differences, but it would probably remain a factor.

    I don’t remember who ran this but I remember reading about a study that looked at marriages that lasted and ones that didn’t. They determined that marriages between “equals” tended to outlast ones where the spouses are on very different social levels. It is theorized that when for example, a beautiful person marries an ugly person, after a while the beautiful person asks themselves why she settled when she could have done better. Or a college professor marries a high school dropout and feels like he should have held out for someone smarter.

    • #18
    • June 28, 2020, at 5:18 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Stad Thatcher

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    a beautiful person marries an ugly person, after a while the beautiful person asks themselves why she settled when she could have done better

    Has my wife said anything to you?

    • #19
    • June 28, 2020, at 6:56 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  20. Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    sawatdeeka (View Comment):

    Joshua Bissey (View Comment):

    sawatdeeka: Today, news of one’s husband acquiring a mistress would shatter the wife’s ability to continue her commitment, and we would all support her decision in bringing to an end such a sham marriage.

    Uh, no, not all of us. Had the marriage been a sham, there would be no betrayal, and nothing to get upset about. Both spouses are still married to each other. The cheating spouse needs to apologize and never cheat again. The faithful spouse needs to forgive, as she herself would want to be forgiven. Marriage is a life-long commitment between an imperfect man and imperfect woman, who must love one another (not cheat), but must also forgive each other (not divorce). Infidelity is not a get-out-of-jail-free card

    Joshua @thesockmonkey , I am not talking about an instance or two of infidelity. I’m talking about keeping a mistress or habitual infidelity. In that case, when the wife finds out, she is betrayed and shattered. It would be very hard to go on from there. If the husband is willing to give up his lifestyle and commit to his wife, then that would be the best thing. Adultery, though, is a biblical exception and serial adultery would be a tremendous obstacle to continuing the marriage. However, I’m acquainted with a situation where restoration happened even after unfaithfulness.

    But I agree that an instance of betrayal should not automatically end the marriage. I speak as someone who does not live out or advocate get-out-of-jail free cards for marriage.

    To state the obvious: 

     

    • #20
    • June 28, 2020, at 3:26 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Ontheleftcoast Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    We still have plenty of “Looking down on earning one’s wealth,” “Condescension toward the lower classes,” and “Open snobbery within the ranks of the rich.”

    Those values are celebrated and encouraged at the elite end of society. The only difference is that the measure has changed from how much money you were born with to which elite university you attended. Those who attend the “correct” university have nothing but contempt for those who did not. Those who get into the “correct” university reasonably expect to be able to coast through life, and to exert power over lesser people, simply because of their privileged status as having attended the “correct” university. Then again, getting into the “correct” university normally requires preexisting connections with the “correct” people in society, much of which depends on how much money you were born with. So in some ways it still goes back to how much money you were born with.

    Those of us who are in the vast middle may celebrate the prospering local business whose founder started from nothing and worked long hours to move forward. But the people who seek to exert political and social power and attended the “correct” universities to put themselves into that elite class, hold that entrepreneur in contempt. They also exhibit contempt for the skilled tradesman or laborer who dares to work with his hands rather than entering words on a computer screen. (“deplorables,” “flyover,” et al.). “Work”? Ugh! How lower class.

    And the graduates of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and similar institutions will certainly lord that status over those who graduated from Podunk State, or didn’t graduate from college at all, or even the lesser Ivy League institutions.

    So whether or not many people have rejected the listed old-fashioned values, those values have not been rejected by the powerful elite. Those old-fashioned values are still as much in force as they were 250 years ago.

    Or: Marriage is also a socioeconomic institution/partnership. The nature of the transaction involved varies by overt importance of class status and the respective partners’ ability to jointly maximize the marriage’s status and viability, and the larger families’ status and viability as well. This is true even when social stratification is more fluid , but other factors play in there as well. In the highest levels of social rank, rank itself is a commodity, and when it needs to be preserved, it can be traded for lacking cash.

    In English landowning families, primogeniture kept the property intact, which when agricultural land was still a financial asset meant maintaining stability based on economies of scale and multiple income streams as opposed to dividing and subdividing it with each generation. That underlies the social structure of Austen’s novels, though agricultural land was becoming less financially viable in her day. Sacrifice of ones own desires for the welfare of the land and family were part of the mores which outlived their function as mores can.

    • #21
    • June 28, 2020, at 3:33 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  22. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    sawatdeeka (View Comment):

    Thus, while we make a traffic of what is most sacred, these shopkeepers exhibit a delicacy and loftiness of feeling which would have done honor to the most perfect models of chivalry.

    This is a beautiful sentence.

    David Foster: women with college degrees would not consider marrying an un-degreed man, irrespective of his good qualities and his financial success in, say, a trade or a small business….and also irrespective of how lame the degree of the woman in question was.

    I have a college degree, and my husband started one, but didn’t quite finish. He just doesn’t find it that important, and has made a living by being an excellent technician. He is capable of a broad range of work, so we won’t lack for ways to bring income. He a doer who works brilliantly with his hands, and his type is needed today. I am in awe of those qualities.

    My younger son has probably the highest IQ of my children (they were tested back when that was allowed) and he has only a 2 year AA degree. He is also the only one of his four siblings who owns his own home. His wife has a BS degree and runs a very successful business from home. He is a fireman paramedic and that is all he has wanted to do since 6th grade. They have three great teenaged kids.

    • #22
    • June 28, 2020, at 3:53 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    sawatdeeka (View Comment):

    Joshua Bissey (View Comment):

    sawatdeeka: Today, news of one’s husband acquiring a mistress would shatter the wife’s ability to continue her commitment, and we would all support her decision in bringing to an end such a sham marriage.

    Uh, no, not all of us. Had the marriage been a sham, there would be no betrayal, and nothing to get upset about. Both spouses are still married to each other. The cheating spouse needs to apologize and never cheat again. The faithful spouse needs to forgive, as she herself would want to be forgiven. Marriage is a life-long commitment between an imperfect man and imperfect woman, who must love one another (not cheat), but must also forgive each other (not divorce). Infidelity is not a get-out-of-jail-free card

    Joshua @thesockmonkey , I am not talking about an instance or two of infidelity. I’m talking about keeping a mistress or habitual infidelity. In that case, when the wife finds out, she is betrayed and shattered. It would be very hard to go on from there. If the husband is willing to give up his lifestyle and commit to his wife, then that would be the best thing. Adultery, though, is a biblical exception and serial adultery would be a tremendous obstacle to continuing the marriage. However, I’m acquainted with a situation where restoration happened even after unfaithfulness.

    But I agree that an instance of betrayal should not automatically end the marriage. I speak as someone who does not live out or advocate get-out-of-jail free cards for marriage.

    A woman I knew many years ago was from Panama and told me all the men there had mistresses and it was a social requirement for a certain social class. They would have poker parties at the mistresses’ apartment. If one man did not have a mistress, he was not included. She had moved to Chicago to get away from that culture. She was from a wealthy family and her father was probably one of the examples. At one point I knew a doctor colleague who, I believe , was the son of one such mistress. In Argentina they are called “minas.”

    • #23
    • June 28, 2020, at 3:59 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Item #4…”Open Snobbery Within the Ranks of the Rich”

    Tom Watson Jr, longtime head of IBM, wrote a wonderful autobiograohy (‘Father, Son, & Co’)…he mentions that when he was young, a girl he was interested in was forbidden by her mother to get involved about him, because he didn’t come from a Good Family. While IBM was not yet the behemoth it was later to become, it was already a very successful and well-known corporation…but the IBM family wasn’t good enough because they weren’t a recognized Old Family.

    This sort of thing has largely disappeared, I think…but as has been noted above, snobbery based on educational credentials has become a serious issue.

    50 years ago, Peter Drucker wrote that a major advantage that the US had over Europe was that we didn’t have a system in which a few ‘elite’ universities monopolized the key positions in society:

    One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim…

    We as a country are a lot closer to accepting Grande Ecole status for Harvard Law School and similar institutions than we were when Drucker wrote the above.

    The problem is that Harvard and Yale no longer provide the elite education that the French ecoles still do. The liberal arts are useless.

    • #24
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:00 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    And in the Final Apocalypse, those who survive will be the ones who work with their hands, or have the skills. All those highfalutin, snobby Yale and Harvard graduates will starve, because they have been living off the labor of others their entire lives, and have no idea how to make or grow anything.

    Many employees of big corporations are approaching the level of “salarymen” in Japan. They are required to attend “diversity” workshops as the salarymen go to sessions of “team exercises.” Technician jobs will not be exported or, like code writing, be replaced with immigrant serfs on H1B visas.

    • #25
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:03 PM PDT
    • Like
  26. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    sawatdeeka:

    to one’s wife was not always upheld as virtue. Perhaps it was an ideal, but in practice, men often kept mistresses, visited brothels, or otherwise indulged in illicit encounters with other women when they were away from home. For instance, explorers of the past included journal entries that describe their exciting cross-cultural sexual experiences for posterity, apparently without much shame. As long as the naughty behavior wasn’t too open, society looked the other way for men. However, decent marriageable women and wives were held to a high standard if they were to avoid public censure. Even associating in the wrong context with a man to whom one was not married or engaged could open one to ruinous gossip. (This high standard for women was perhaps less rigid starting from the Gilded Age. Churchill’s American mother, for instance, had numerous affairs.) I am not sure when our culture began viewing adultery by either husband or wife, and even unfaithfulness in our serially monogamous affairs, as betrayal. Men who fool around on their wives are faithless scoundrels; women in extra-marital affairs are held equally culpable. We call it “cheating” and we have a body of music that laments the heartbreak it brings. Today, news of one’s husband acquiring a mistress would shatter the wife’s ability to continue her commitment, and we would all support her decision in bringing to an end such a sham marriage.

    In light of these traditions of the past that we’ve justifiably rejected, we can agree that even though our culture has decayed in some ways, we have improved in other respects. These changes, arguably, have been brought about by the influence of the Bible and its explicit teachings on the God-given dignity of every man and woman, the importance of hard work, and the lifetime commitment of marriage. But that’s a discussion for another day.

    Except for #5, I think these are mostly holdovers from Britain.

    I agree and syphilis was a scourge of the careless whoremaster. The old saying was “A night with Venus results in a lifetime with Mercury.”

    • #26
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:06 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    sawatdeeka (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Based on anecdotal evidence, I think this is indeed a characteristic of many white women today.

    Given the demographics, and the college graduation rates of men/women, I’d say it’s already happening.

    Some of this makes sense–it doesn’t follow that this mate selection necessarily comes from a sense of superiority. People gravitate toward those with whom they share things in common. A college-educated person might not click as well with a person who works in another field. They may have completely different conversational styles and experiences, so it’s harder to relate to one another. Shared faith and life goals may go some way in rectifying these differences, but it would probably remain a factor.

    I taught medical students for 15 years. 60% of medical students are women. I saw a number of my students and know of lots more in which female doctors marry men with jobs like fireman, policeman or other occupation that fits well with child rearing. Firemen, like my son, work three days a week.

    • #27
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:09 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    We still have plenty of “Looking down on earning one’s wealth,” “Condescension toward the lower classes,” and “Open snobbery within the ranks of the rich.”

    snipped

    Those of us who are in the vast middle may celebrate the prospering local business whose founder started from nothing and worked long hours to move forward. But the people who seek to exert political and social power and attended the “correct” universities to put themselves into that elite class, hold that entrepreneur in contempt. They also exhibit contempt for the skilled tradesman or laborer who dares to work with his hands rather than entering words on a computer screen. (“deplorables,” “flyover,” et al.). “Work”? Ugh! How lower class.

    And the graduates of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and similar institutions will certainly lord that status over those who graduated from Podunk State, or didn’t graduate from college at all, or even the lesser Ivy League institutions.

    So whether or not many people have rejected the listed old-fashioned values, those values have not been rejected by the powerful elite. Those old-fashioned values are still as much in force as they were 250 years ago.

    Or: Marriage is also a socioeconomic institution/partnership. The nature of the transaction involved varies by overt importance of class status and the respective partners’ ability to jointly maximize the marriage’s status and viability, and the larger families’ status and viability as well. This is true even when social stratification is more fluid , but other factors play in there as well. In the highest levels of social rank, rank itself is a commodity, and when it needs to be preserved, it can be traded for lacking cash.

    In English landowning families, primogeniture kept the property intact, which when agricultural land was still a financial asset meant maintaining stability based on economies of scale and multiple income streams as opposed to dividing and subdividing it with each generation. That underlies the social structure of Austen’s novels, though agricultural land was becoming less financially viable in her day. Sacrifice of ones own desires for the welfare of the land and family were part of the mores which outlived their function as mores can.

    I’ve been reading an excellent series of historical novels about 19th century Britain by an author who taught Economic History for 10 years in England. His name is Andrew Wareham and the first novel, of a series of 14 is called “The Privateersman.”

    https://www.amazon.com/Privateersman-Poor-Man-Gate-Book-ebook/dp/B00H86S2ZE

    He has many novels with a theme of how a poor Englishman might rise in society,.

    • #28
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:16 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. Dennis A. Garcia (formerly Gai… Member

    sawatdeeka: Looking Down on Earning One’s Wealth: The consensus today, partly evidenced by the way most Americans live their lives and discuss public figures such as Donald Trump, is that one’s living should be earned. We love stories of individuals clawing their way to a better life and frown on accounts of inherited wealth that may bequeath unfair advantages or cheat the heir of valuable life experiences. We hold up as an ideal the prospering local business whose founder started from nothing and worked long hours to move forward. In the past, however, the best people in society wrinkled their noses at honest work for those in their station. Losing one’s status and having to become a governess (a job I would enjoy) was considered a shameful event to be painfully borne. The newly wealthy of the Gilded Age were not easily welcomed into the ranks of the noble classes because they (sniff) had earned their money. Apparently, one’s position was to be considered intrinsic to the individual and not shaped by life choices and the availability of opportunities. A life of idleness was a respectable option. And the upper classes wanted to keep it that way.

    Depends on what you mean by condescension. There’s a not at all necessary or logical leap from admiring the new monied capitalist classes in a Randian sort of way for their contributions to mankind and thinking that they should make up a new political leadership class. Oftentimes the latter turns into a not at all Randian rightwing equivalent of progressive rule by experts, rule by the omnicompetent entrepreneur–the GOP’s first dalliance with which was not Trump but Romney. In fact its a sign that we don’t yet have the proper regard for capitalists as capitalists that after earning their billions many still feel that they have something to prove, and attempt to do so by inflicting upon us their political dilettantism.

    The old WASP elites in this country had many flaws but at their best they were less like feudal lords and ladies and more like the great families of the high Roman Republic, whose liberal education was complemented with a tradition of leadership and a belief that their power and privilege had a corresponding responsibility to behave with civic virtue. That they seem to have been wholly turned out instead of being given the chance to pass on their core attributes to new generations who would maintain the ethos without being necessarily white Anglo-Saxon or protestant has been a major loss to the country.

    • #29
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:26 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  30. iWe Reagan
    iWeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    sawatdeeka: Condescension Towards the Lower Classes

    Is there really an important difference in America between this kind of condescension and every other kind of tribal inferiority/superiority complex? The vast majority of people separate “our kind” from everyone else. Does it really matter whether it is about wealth or education or accent or beauty?

    I, for example, discriminate against people who have short time horizons. That is a form of condescension toward the lower classes, and one I defend. I am interested in people who are trying to make something of themselves, and invest in long-term accomplishments instead of short-term pleasure.

    I would claim that my form of condescension is more important and OK than rejecting others based on more superficial traits.

     

    • #30
    • June 29, 2020, at 5:51 AM PDT
    • 2 likes