The New Aristocrats

One hundred years ago yesterday, top European aristocrat Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot dead in Sarajevo. This led to an ultimatum from the Austro-Hungarian empire to Serbia, whence the assassin had come. And it activated a whole set of alliances and ententes which had the whole of Europe at war within 60 days.

In the resulting conflagration, most of the aristocracies of Europe were swept away. They included the Kaiser in Germany, the Emperor in Austro-Hungary, the Tsar of Russia, the Sultan of the Ottoman empire, and probably a few more as well.

And even those aristocracies which survived – e.g. in Britain – lingered on in a rather diminished form.

And now almost all world leaders are non-aristocrats. And most people think that’s progress.

But I was wondering today whether aristocracies are actually very natural, and that when one aristocracy vanishes it usually gets replaced by another one.

One minor example of an emerging aristocracy might be seen in the world of rock stars or movie stars. They get idolised by fans, and promoted to being ‘rock gods’ or ‘screen goddesses’. And when this happens, they are no longer able to live ordinary lives, because they’re recognised wherever they go. So they tend to form little aristocratic societies. Movie stars hang out with other movie stars, and rock stars with other rock stars. They are aristocracies that are the product of adulation of celebrities.

Much the same seems to happen when people become very rich. Rich people tend to live separate lives from ordinary people. And they tend to belong in communities of other rich people. I doubt if people like Bill Gates or Michael Bloomberg get much in the way of adulation, but most likely they can buy influence if they want it. And aristocracies of wealth are also perfectly natural.

And there can be political aristocracies. In the USA the Kennedy clan was a political aristocracy. And maybe the Bush clan is today. Same with the Nehrus in India.

And quite often the new aristocracies marry into old aristocracies. For example Grace Kelly marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco. Equally, when Ronald Reagan become President of the United States, he was a movie star ‘marrying into’ the US political aristocracy.

So little aristocracies arise naturally from multiple sources, and they also tend to merge together. And because the new aristocrats tend to live separately from ordinary people, they tend to form a separate culture, which grows apart from ordinary culture. And this culture tends to regard itself as ‘above’ ordinary culture simply because its members are richer, more famous, or more powerful than ordinary people.

So I’ve been wondering whether the demolition of the old European aristocracies circa 1918 was simply the prelude to the emergence of a new aristocracy with its own culture, and what we are now witnessing is that gradual emergence.

And it’s characterised by top down control of society. The ‘top’ people increasingly start ordering around the people at the bottom, and treating them with barely concealed contempt. The war on tobacco and alcohol and obesity serve not just ‘improve health’ (if at all), but also to consolidate power at the top, and create a set of underdogs that are the mirror image of the top dogs. The only discussions that matter are those that take place within the aristocracy, with everyone else simply being informed of their conclusions.

The EU political class is a new aristocracy. It’s made up of the intermarriages of the political aristocracies of its member states – Barroso is ex-prime minister of Portugal, Rompuy prime minister of Belgium, Jean-Claude Juncker prime minister of Luxemburg. It’s barely democratic at all. And it conducts its business in a series of dinner parties. Its members are immune from prosecution, and they don’t pay taxes. And the new aristocracy becomes more and more powerful.

None of its members are particularly noteworthy, and many of them come from fairly humble backgrounds. And the various political and moral doctrines to which the new aristocracy subscribes would seem to be dogmatic versions of popular ideas current in recent decades. They’re all environmentalists or Greens. They’re all antismoking. They all believe in global warming.

And all in all, one might almost say that, if the old aristocracies of Europe were swept away 100 years ago, they have now almost perfectly recreated themselves.

About Frank Davis

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23 Responses to The New Aristocrats

  1. Marie says:

    I love our Queen Margrethe, who is still smoking! The entire royal family i fact were smokers, unntil there came tho princesses from ordinary middel class families into the family. Her two sons, or at least the Crown Prince has stopped smoking, his wife Mary is a health freak from Australia, and that seems to be her only identity, besides she is going to be queen some day. She has turned her husband into an healthy ex-smoker.
    So … I agree with you, Frank, and with our queen!

    • Marie says:

      Besides – you have always some very good and relevant analyses :) Much of it things I have thought myself. And because of that, they are true!

  2. Marie says:

    I have quoted you on Klaus K blog, Frank.

  3. waltc says:

    The US “political class” (which my favorite radio host calls “the ruling class”) is broader than the few wealthy ivy league educated clans; it consists of every elected office holder, from US Senator to local councilman, all of whom live in their own bubble of power and self-importance (after all, you’re pretty important when you can order people around and punish them for not following your orders) Some, if not most, of these people are idiots. I mean really idiots. They say truly stupid things and even say them a-grammatically.

    Still, they live w/i their own universe, talking only to one another (the only other people they see as their equals) and it’s a universe in which they don’t necessarily have to obey the strict laws they foist on the rest of us. (Bloomberg, famous for also being anti-fat and anti-salt, was also famous for adding salt to his peanut butter and bacon sandwiches. The story I’ve heard from Ed Klein’s new book “Blood Feud.” is that when the Obama’s go on vacation, they sleep in separate bedrooms and that O spends half the day in bed, smoking and eating junk food. This, on authority of the maids who claim they have to change the sheets daily on account of the potato chip grease and the ashes.)

    Almost none of these people really meet with or even know non-bubble people. They don’t live in our neighborhoods, shop in our stores. The only outsiders they know are some Experts who tell them what to think, and Lobbyists who pay them to think it, and from time to time they curry some Outraged Citizen whose testimony bolsters the expert opinions they’ve adopted as their own. Once having been elected, they immediately see themselves as being The Elect in the Calvinist sense.

    And since the electorate can be fooled more often than Lincoln dreampt, I have no f’ing idea what to do about these people.

  4. roobeedoo2 says:

    Idle is better than idol. The two have been confused.

  5. W says:

    grateful to delete the above post for obvious reasond

    Frank says: It read

    Barroso, Rompuy and Juncker. Failed politicians from small and insignificant Countries with the clout of a dead moth. Now top dogs in Brussels.

    Bound to work, innit?

  6. harleyrider1978 says:

    Divorce is now the only course left for Britain and the EU (but here is how we can make it amicable)

    By Daniel Hannan, Conservative Mep For South East England

    Published: 20:03 EST, 28 June 2014 | Updated: 20:03 EST, 28 June 2014

    Read more:

  7. harleyrider1978 says:
  8. harleyrider1978 says:

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

    News feed: ‘Emotional contagion’ sweeps Facebook

    H. Roger Segelken and Stacey Shackford

    When it hasn’t been your day – your week, your month, or even your year – it might be time to turn to Facebook friends for a little positive reinforcement. According to a new study by social scientists at Cornell, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and Facebook, emotions can spread among users of online social networks.

    The researchers reduced the amount of either positive or negative stories that appeared in the news feed of 689,003 randomly selected Facebook users, and found that the so-called “emotional contagion” effect worked both ways.

    “People who had positive content experimentally reduced on their Facebook news feed, for one week, used more negative words in their status updates,” reports Jeff Hancock, professor of communication at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and co-director of its Social Media Lab. “When news feed negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred: Significantly more positive words were used in peoples’ status updates.”

    The experiment is the first to suggest that emotions expressed via online social networks influence the moods of others, the researchers report in “Experimental Evidence of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion through Social Networks,” published online June 2 in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science) Social Science.

    Previous experiments had demonstrated emotional contagion in real-world situations – interacting with a happy person is infectiously pleasant, for instance, whereas crossing swords with a grump can launch an epidemic of grumpiness.

    But those “contagions” result from experiencing an interaction, not exposure to emotion, and researchers wondered if online exposure to mood-laden text could change moods. They also wondered whether exposure to the happiness of others may actually be depressing, producing a social comparison effect.

    Facebook, with more than 1.3 billion users of every emotive disposition, and its news feed feature – in which a constantly tweaked, Facebook-controlled ranking algorithm regularly filters posts, stories and activities enjoyed by friends – proved an ideal place to start.

    Researchers never saw the content of actual posts, per Facebook’s data use policy; instead, they counted only the occurrence of positive and negative words in more than 3 million posts with a total of 122 million words. They report that 4 million of those words were “positive” and 1.8 million were “negative.”

    Hancock said peoples’ emotional expressions on Facebook predicted their friends’ emotional expressions, even days later.

    “We also observed a withdrawal effect: People who were exposed to fewer emotional posts in their news feed were less expressive overall on the following days,” Hancock wrote in the paper.

    “This observation, and the fact that people were more emotionally positive in response to positive emotion updates from their friends, stands in contrast to theories that suggest viewing positive posts by friends on Facebook may somehow affect us negatively,” he added. “In fact, this is the result when people are exposed to less positive content, rather than more.”

    Hancock plans to direct future research into how expressions of positive and negative emotions influence levels of engagement in other online activities, such as liking and commenting on posts.

    He said the findings could have implications for public health.

    “Online messages influence our experience of emotions, which may affect a variety of offline behaviors,” Hancock said.

    Other investigators included Jamie Guillory, a Cornell postdoctoral associate when the project began who now works at the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, and Adam D.I. Kramer of Facebook.

    Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that the study was funded in part by the James S. McDonnell Foundation and the Army Research Office. In fact, the study received no external funding.

    Stacey Shackford is a staff writer at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.…/news-feed-emotional…

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Researcher at UCSF Tobacco Research Center Involved in Unethical Facebook Research

      A scientist who is currently with the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education (home of Dr. Stan Glantz) is part of a research team that conducted an unethical experiment on hundreds of thousands of Facebook users, whose Facebook news feed content was manipulated without their informed consent in order to try to trigger their emotions.

      The purpose of the experiment was to determine whether manipulation of an individual’s Facebook news feed by blocking either positive or negative emotional content could affect the mood and emotional expression of that person. In short, the experiment sought to determine whether emotion is “contagious.”

      The paper defends its ethical standards by arguing that it “was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research.”

  10. harleyrider1978 says:

    Climate change theory is not about saving anything…it’s about economic control by the government….

  11. carol2000 says:

    “None of its members are particularly noteworthy, and many of them come from fairly humble backgrounds.”

    That means they’re the hired help.

    “And the various political and moral doctrines to which the new aristocracy subscribes would seem to be dogmatic versions of popular ideas current in recent decades. They’re all environmentalists or Greens. They’re all antismoking. They all believe in global warming.”

    Those all came from the top down, not the bottom up. They’re the masters of Astroturf, because they have the money and connections to get things started and keep them going. And they believe, just like the old oligarchs, that the people are the property of the state, and have no rights which it is bound to respect.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      that the people are the property of the state, and have no rights which it is bound to respect

      That’s it in a nutshell, we are property of the King serfs,slaves……………

  12. How long ? says:

    Lets get some reality into the causes and effects of the WW1 and subsequent liberal cancer that
    poisoned the Western World to this very day.
    New York,Frankfurt and London Finaciers were the promoters,backers and instigaters of the first war ,followed by International Manipulators in the second. The left donned the garb of correct liberalism,hoising banners of health concern,equality and other pretty attire to sufffocate the
    idiot in the street with easy credit and new Gods. Sadly the answer to these pink rodents will be
    to lead them unkowingly to an horror beyond human comprehension.

  13. garyk30 says:

    Strange(to USA anyway) was how most of the royal courts of Europe were related.

    In the Spring of 1910 when Edward the 7th of England died, he was, literally, the ‘Uncle’ of the royal families of Europe.

    He was the uncle not only of Kaiser Wilhelm but also, through his wife’s sister, the Dowager Empress Marie of Russia, of Czar Nicolas II.

    His own niece Alix was the Czarina; his daughter Maude was the Queen of Norway; another niece, Ena was the Queen of Spain; a third niece, Marie,was soon to be Queen of Rumania.

    The Danish family of his wife, besides occuping the throne of Denmark, had mothered the Czar of Russia, and supplied kings to Greece and Norway.

    Other relatives, the progeny at various removes of Queen Victoria’s nine sons and daughters, were scattered in abundance throughout the courts of Europe.

    During the funeral parade, Kaiser Wilhem II wore the uniform of a British Field Marshall and considered himself proud to be a memmber of the Royal Family.

    The modern elites are not so closely knit.

    Except for their love of power and seeming importance.

  14. beobrigitte says:

    The EU political class is a new aristocracy. It’s made up of the intermarriages of the political aristocracies of its member states – Barroso is ex-prime minister of Portugal, Rompuy prime minister of Belgium, Jean-Claude Juncker prime minister of Luxemburg. It’s barely democratic at all. And it conducts its business in a series of dinner parties. Its members are immune from prosecution, and they don’t pay taxes.

    And: NO SMOKING BAN for Juncker!!!

    Juncker’s office in Brussels is one of the few smoke-filled rooms left in the EU capital.
    (guardian, 20.06.14)

    The BBC (26.6.14) found some other comment incredibly important:
    “He is tired,” says Mario Hirsch, a political adviser while Mr Juncker was leader but not to the PM himself.
    Years of chain-smoking and drinking litres of strong coffee a day have caught up with him, he believes.

    You have got to laugh – It’ll be interesting to see what Juncker does when his ashtray has been removed……

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      ROFLMAO……………..Hope somebody from the WHO gestapo goes in and removes the new Fuhrers ashtray!

  15. melinoerealm says:

    Only the values of the warrior aristocracy in the past, bear little to no relationship with the laughable plebeian moralism of the wanna-be aristocracy today.
    It’s called progress. Towards the cliff…

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