Try as I might, I can’t get a comment posted via the Blogger comment system. I’ve tried leaving comments on others’ Blogger blogs, with no success, and I tried replying to a commenter here on this blog ‘Jacobin conservative’ thread from a couple of days ago, with no luck. I finally resorted to replying by e-mail. I don’t know what the problem is but it’s annoying.
But to return to my points about how a lack of exemplars and leaders leads to an exaltation of other, usually baser, people, here’s an illustration. I turned on Sky News podcasts and saw a headline this morning about the Windsors visiting the USA — New York, and Harlem to be specific, and I read that the Windsors were meeting ‘American kings‘, namely ‘King’ Le Bron James. The article linked in the previous sentences tells us that other ‘American royals’ granting an audience, or should I say receiving obeisance from the Windsors included Beyonce and Jay-Z.
Really. This is the world we live in.
And there is some credibility to the labeling of the above-mentioned ‘celebrities’ being called ‘royalty.’ They, and the likes of the Kardashians, Miley Cyrus, and whoever else is regularly featured on the supermarket tabloid covers, are exalted and coddled and lauded as real royalty once was. Actual royals today don’t receive anything like as much remuneration, or the deference these media creations receive.
Most Americans seem to view royalty with a jaundiced eye, to say the least, and many Americans detest aristocracy, with a passion. I still say it’s mostly caused by pride (“I don’t bow down to anybody; I’m as good as anybody’ ‘who are royals anyway? They’re useless parasites.‘ And so on) and the other cause is envy. Class envy is very strong, at least where royalty is concerned. And there is a kind of upside-down snobbery, with the idea that being an ‘average person’ makes one superior to the ‘useless rich’, an idea which doesn’t hold water in most cases.
Knighthoods, in old Europe, were usually conferred on people who had actually done distinguished service to the sovereign or to the kingdom and the people thereof. Now, knighthoods are handed out to people like Elton John, Bob Geldof, or Paul McCartney — not to mention titles being conferred on many people of foreign birth. No doubt titles do not mean what they used to mean.
Royalty or hereditary aristocracy could, in the past, usually claim to have had distinguished family members, people whose accomplishments included military prowess or superior intelligence. But do celebrities really earn their vast wealth and the fawning acclaim they receive? Most of them may be has-beens, destitute in a matter of years, with most of their vast earnings squandered on hedonism and ‘conspicuous consumption’; mansions, expensive cars and clothing, travel, ‘partying’ and so on. Many end up in bankruptcy court while still relatively young. And who will remember them when some new media darling replaces them? Many of our athletic ‘aristocrats’ are involved in criminal acts; I need not name names. If not, their athletic career is bound to be short, as athletes are ‘too old’ by 35 or 40 at the latest. Their stars fade, and others surpass their athletic accomplishments in the record books.
But do we have an aristocracy? We do, if you think of aristocracy or royalty as a group or class of people who receive ‘tribute money’ a guaranteed income, along with deference, fawning attention, and the right to demand punishment of those who displease them or fail to bow down to them. Yes, we do have an aristocracy, one which may not be criticized or spoken ill of. And maybe those people who held an audience with the Windsors are part of that aristocracy.