Thursday, April 13, 2017
The Great Old British Aristocracy
I am a patriotic American, I am of Swedish and German ancestry, I much appreciate Edmund Burke, but I am very much against empires in general, and I don't at all condone the condition of the poor during the time of the British feudal aristocracy. But like other Americans I am impressed with the great old British aristocracy. They had the time, the power, and the wealth to develop superior genetic qualities, a superior taste for the best quality clothing, and really great looking homes. These are the elements of the empire that interest me now, even if what is left of the aristocracy is sort of goofy. American WASPS are goofy now too.
The great old British aristocracy began with the Henry Tudor court. As Charles Spencer pointed out, "at its peak in the late 1870s, 80 percent of the country’s acreage was owned by 7,000 families, principally those of the 431 hereditary members of the House of Lords—the dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, and barons of the United Kingdom. " And they all bred together.
The first world war was disastrous for the British aristocracy. While one in eight British soldiers perished during the four-year conflict, the ratio was one in five for the nobility. But beginning back in the 1880s, "the export of grain from the Americas, followed by the arrival in Europe of refrigerated meat, halved the agricultural income of the aristocracy in Britain. Then taxation increased at the same time. Death duties were introduced in 1894 at 8 percent. By 1939 these had reached 60 percent. In 1948 they were levied at 75 percent on estates worth more than £1 million." During the years between the World Wars, roughly 230 mansions were destroyed. (I almost said that was worse than losing the aristocrats.)
The WASPS in America copied the British in more than politics. The genetics, the clothing, the great homes of the British aristocrats interested generations of Americans. During the war the upper class British officer was four inches taller than the lower class soldier, and his IQ showed an even greater disparity. And it was not all due to better nutrition or better schooling, it was biological, it was genetic. The most successful dynasties "were those that read the code, accepted its terms, and fused it into their DNA." And we don't need empires to do that.