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Jul. 30th, 2007 @ 03:15 pm The Class system--- The one thing it lacked was in its name.
http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/C/countryhouse/index.html <--- no other word for it but "horrid."
just.... awful.
God forbid we should ever see a return of a day and age like that. when I think of the countless generations of people who were...*used up*.... to maintain the facade of class and caste at the whim of the devolved descendants of decrepit "nobility..." I cannot help but empathize with those frenchmen who wanted to, quote, "Strangle the last king with the entrails of the last priest."

It's little wonder that Communism--- with its empty promises of the end of castes and classes--- seized the imagination of so many bitter people who, under the old system, would be born scullery maids and footmen and die as the same.

It's no wonder at all that so many people of the "lower classes"--- the ones that actually WORKED for a living--- fled to America. Better to die in some wilderness infested with wild Indians and grizzly bears than to die polishing the boots of some ass of a nobleman. And little wonder at all that even now Europe holds America in such contempt. Scratch the surface, and you will see that underneath it all, in their eyes we are still nothing but the offspring of uppity, runaway house-servants whom they should have given a proper thrashing. We with our broad, vulgar amusements, coarse appetites, and appalling lack of blue blood in our veins.

An interesting realization, that rampant, uncontrolled lassez-faire capitalism, "wild west" culture, and what Jeff Foxworthy refers to as "a glorious lack of sophistication" delivered on the promises that collectivism and caste system merely promised.

Of course, it's far easier to romanticize the good old days of upstairs-downstairs so long as you imagine YOURSELF as the nobility, and SOMEONE ELSE as the drudge who will live their whole lives as your servant, wreck their hands and backs scrubbing your floors, and die on a pittance that would be a fraction of what you'd pay for the upkeep of your horse... and who won't offend your sensibilities by crossing your line of sight too much in the meanwhile.

I recall reading an old Agatha Christie novel and being grossly offended that the cast of the novel spoke the post mortem of the murder victim---a young woman--- as "having paid the price for having aspirations above her station in life."
Such attitudes could only be expected in, say, the mid-1800s.... Her books are of a much more recent vintage, though, written mostly in the decates between 1920 and 1970.... one is only left to wonder how much of that grotesque class-elitist attitude still trickles like backwashed sewage through England's cultural veins.'

Quite a bit, one suspects--- they still have Kings and Queens, despite the fact that the royal family is so useless to their national image that they would serve their country better if they were submitted to a taxidermist, stuffed and mounted on display--- and their "house of nobles", still determined in the 21st century by family lineage, is filled with prats who think wearing powdered wigs while engaged in government business makes them look dignified.

They have gone from barbarian Rule of Kings to corrupt bureaucratic ossifaction without even the benefit of an intervening moment of democracy.

Little can be said for the French, but at least they beheaded their kings BEFORE they became too inbred to have chins, and threw the renfaire dead-sheep hats away along with the corpses.

Why do I digress on that? Because I have readers both in America and in Europe. And it dawns on me that the average reader doesn't grasp this basic equation:

The Old Worlders are offended by America's undignified lack of class.... While Americans are just as offended by the Old World's obsession with class.


The typical European doesn't grasp that America sees it's relative "classlessness" (in both senses of the word) as a VIRTUE. Nor, for that matter, WHY we see it that way. Our "glorious lack of sophistication" is generally taken by Americans as a self-evident proof that no matter how much money you have, you can't lord it over another American except by his own consent, and that consent ain't forthcoming. Typical evidence: Movies and TV shows such as "Green Acres," "Beverly Hillbillies," "Doc Hollywood," "the Simple Life," "Caddyshack" and more.... where the wealthy, famous and citified (those who would, in Europe, be higher-caste) are dropped into a rural setting, shown to be buffoons, and (for all their "classiness") to be grossly lacking in a more important characteristic: basic human dignity--- and respect for the basic human dignity of others.

We of course have those in our country--- unsurprisingly, the hollywood elite, the darlings (and overlords) of America's media and visible culture---- who pander to the Old World's nose-crinkling at America's classlessness. Typical proofs: Movies such as "King Ralph" and "Mr. Baseball," where the obnoxious, crude American goes to a foreign land, humiliates himself, and "learns his proper place." King Ralph ends the movie apologizing to the House of Lords for being such a poor king; Mr. Baseball, by the end of the movie, has memorized the appropriate ritual apologies in Japanese to repeat to his teammates for his "arrogance and inconsiderate behavior."

Neither wordview is flawless. Classlessness has the flaw that there is little, culturally, to aspire to when the people at the "top" are as crass and tacky as those at the bottom of the ladder (gangsta rap, anyone?).... and obsession with classlessness, wilfully aspiring to it, can lead to such follies as were seen in the French revolution and the Communist uprising.
But obsession with class.... culture or caste, either kind.... leads not just to elitism and arrogance, but to cultural fossilization (see either the caste system of India, ancient China, or Japan) and to the crushing of human hope and the erasure of human worth.

Of the two, the first is the lesser of two evils. As a review of what the average lower-class servant went through their entire lives readily reveals---- a trailer-park dwelling, truck driving redneck, in all his poverty, enjoys a better standard of life than the average Edwardian house-servant, if for no better reason than that he is not consigned to grievous overwork, and mandatory invisibility for the sake of "class." And if you sneer at his lifestyle, his curler-clad wife won't even take the cigarette out of her mouth to tell you to kiss her backside.

I'll take "classless America" over Paris or London any day of the week, thanks just the same.
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pestering
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From:timtitan
Date:July 30th, 2007 07:13 pm (UTC)

err

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I really hate to point this out, despite being a fairly right wing guy myself, I support the Queen and the House of Lords. Why? because the house of lords is one of the one bodies with members that still maintain even a little distance from socialism. All the main political parties in the commons are merging to one central socialist theme. I don't think the government should sponsor the royal family (and it dosen't to any major extent as they have their own money) but I prefer the Queen to Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, or even David Cammeron.
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From:timtitan
Date:July 31st, 2007 11:50 am (UTC)

Re: err

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Its more because somebody being knighted or whatever for service above and beyond is still a nice gesture, but dosen't really affect me. While Labours oh so lovely Tax and Spend Socialist ideals do. We have nobles, out of tradition, and as a way to reconise success. When I meet those of noble rank (and i've met a few) I treat them no differently than any other businessman/millionare/rich person.

Its similar to the whole american "rich elite" i used to hear about, but with a title.
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From:roycalbeck
Date:July 30th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
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Well spoken, Ralph.

And Err, you're pointing up Ralph's position, albeit roundaboutly. The reason the House of Lords opposes socialist tendencies is because those tendencies directly oppose their status as Lords.

One thing I find in the US is that there is indeed a tendency to glorify nobility, but only to the extent that individuals see THEMSELVES as potential nobility. RenFaires, the Society for Creative Anachronism, the social attitude of treating little girls as "princesses" and selling them toys that pander to that attitude --- all about self-nobilization, to coin a term.

As a long-time member of the SCA, I've seen first-hand how pretending in the name of having fun often turns over the long term into pretensions in the name of "lording it over others". People cheat, backstab, and connive to achieve faux titles that they think entitle them to treat others as lesser beings. Not everyone --- in fact, not even the majority --- do this. But enough do that this single issue is the main reason people leave the SCA and go to find other, less "political" venues for their fantasies.
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From:niall_shapero
Date:August 1st, 2007 02:30 am (UTC)

The SCA

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My local experience with the SCA was quite negative. I found myself being "lorded over" by individuals who, under normal circumstances, would be taking orders from me (often in the form of "yes, I would like fries with that"). Because of their complete lack of success in the "real world", they spent most of the SCA time, I think, trying to be "big fish in a little pond".

Not to slam the entire society, one of the nicer folk I've known in my life (an SCA-er), has given my family a standing invitation to join him (& his company) at Pennsic War. But I think this person is just a mellow, nice person by nature (and the SCA is his way of expressing his bardic nature).
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From:merlechaotix
Date:July 30th, 2007 07:58 pm (UTC)
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Damn straight, Ralph. You just summed up exactly what "All men created equal" means - not that all men are literally the same, but that they have the same rights, responsibilities and dignity, regardless of class and wealth.

You are also, sadly, spot-on as to why Communism was so seductive. A system that promises a classless society is understandably attractive, whatever its flaws - until one finds out that the promises were empty.
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From:kitfox_2123
Date:July 30th, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
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*applause* Nailed it again, didn't ya?

I have friends from all over the world, mostly due to the lovely internet. And the only ones I really understand are Ozzies, because they are cut from the same cloth. My European friends enjoy a strange inner battle: they will mock American culture, or "lack of culture" as they put it on the one hand, but will turn around and talk about how they can't wait until the next American-made movie comes to their theaters. It seems to me that the problem their having is getting over the fact that older does not mean better.
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From:madd_the_sane
Date:August 3rd, 2007 08:46 am (UTC)
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If I remember correctly, they sent "criminals" down to Australia. You know, the type that couldn't scratch out a living in England and had to resort to petty theft to stay alive.

I read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens in High School. It had someone who was in that condition. It also talked about the fallicy of class (as did most of his novels, right?).
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From:texas_preacher
Date:July 31st, 2007 01:59 am (UTC)

Amen

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Well done sir, well done indeed.

Once again, a well thought out and executed editorial.

One thing I would like to mention, and this goes along the same lines as you, is something else America offered the undertroden of Europe and France, and even those who still live in class systems today. America offerd those people, and offered these people something they have never befor had. Something that is their own.

The English servants really had nothing of their own. Not their own home, their own clothes, or anything. It was surfdome, slavery, and serivtude under a pompus noble blue blood ass. Your very lively hood as a servent rested soley on the "nobility" doing right by you, and in many cases the did not.

America offered something so much more. Yes the land you bought out in the West was wild, untamed, with beasts and savages roaming and lurking everywhere, but to the imigrant who bought that land, it was *their very own peice of land!* IF the land succeded or failed it would rest solely upon the backs of the family who bought the land. It was their's and theirs alone and no one had the right to take it from them.

Even the Range Wars of the Old West, fought for increasing the land size one rancher had over the other, it was still their land they were fightign for. They weren't being sent off to fight for some nobles whim of fancy, they were fighting to protect what was theirs.

After all is said and done, America offeres something no one, and no where else in the world can offer you. Soemthing that is your very own. More than that, the American Spirit cries out that once you have your own, you keep it, protect it, and cherish it, and you die fighting for it.

This nation, is ours, made by the blood sweat and tears of our fore fathers and ancestors who settled this great nation. What we have, and what the people who still come here have, is their own and no one has the right to take from us what is ours. Not some out of touch polotician, not some pompus hot air "global warming" scumbag and all his ilk, not some snotty nosed Hollywood punk, and definitly, not any of the old world nations who owe their very freedom from the tyrany of the Third Reich and hell most of all the advances in medicine science and standard of living in the past five hundred years to America, or some back water stone aged people who wage a holy war against us.

They have no right to take anything we have, to try to change us in anyway shape or form but by what and how *We the People* so choose to take this nation. We, however and by God Almighty, have the right to fight and kill for the right to protect what is our own.
From:the_brad
Date:August 2nd, 2007 06:41 am (UTC)

Re: Amen

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Except when it comes to eminent domain laws. Your pretty painting is not a picture that reflects the reality of the situation.
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From:brianblackberry
Date:July 31st, 2007 03:07 am (UTC)
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At first I thought you may of been annoyed by this because it was shown in America, but this is British television, and probably much more relevant to them then to us, since such a society was part of their history, like a show on antibelium South would be for us, with all its failings. Really it was nothing but a historical drama, and sounds quite accurate to what that world and time was like.

However Edwardian England and all the trappings of class it had, well.. that society no longer exists. Too be offended on a show based around it is to be offended by a show about any previous era of human history. We all know this was how the world was and that does suck, but nostalgia is just that, tripe dreams for a "simpler time", nut TV is often about fantasy.

Modern London and Paris are not all that different then our cities. Heck, France doesn't even have any of the trappings of nobility or monarchy anymore in any form. As for Britain, the monarchy is simply a symbol without any real power, a symbol of nationhood and culture, and personally I don't see any issue with that. Although I do not understand the point of the House of Lords in today's Britain, that is their society and they must choose wither or not to get rid of it, they have the power to, perhaps it is just the trappings of tradition again.
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From:rhjunior
Date:July 31st, 2007 03:37 am (UTC)
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The point being is that the attitudes that it engendered and with which it sustained itself are not that long gone... nor have they been as adamantly rejected by European culture as the attitudes of the antebellum South were rejected. As late as the 60s and 70s, as was pointed out, "aspirations above one's station" were still being sniffed at by the cultural literati of England.... in a time when, in America, social DEstratification was being embraced.... with, one must confess, a bit TOO much enthusiasm, but there it was. Even the cultural backlash from the south over its disenfranchisement constituted more of a rejection of elitism than a desire to a return to it; a hearty "screw y'all, Redneck and proud of it" in the face of politically correct pomposity.
Meanwhile (and even now) the British are clinching their status as the prissiest people on the planet by portraying Americans in their popular media as a bunch of brawling, bossy, Bronx baboons... Dr. Who, Fawlty Towers, Reign of Fire, Chicken Run... the Yank is there, and oh, isn't he ever so lacking in CLASS! Especially compared to we Brits.... doing their darnedest to reassert their status, however illusory, as the upper crust of the international community. Yanks, oh, ick, ew, mince mince mince...



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From:mike_van_pelt
Date:July 31st, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
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Circa 1986, I got into a conversation with someone at a conference who had spent some time with relatives in England. He said that he found it shocking at how oppressive the "class system" was. At that time, it was still very much a factor. As an American, he was an "outsider" and not affected by it personally, but for the English, the whole concept was still very much alive.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 31st, 2007 03:31 am (UTC)

One bit of good news along those lines...

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The patriarch of the Hilton family, Paris Hilton's grandfather, has cut her out of the will completely, due to her behavior.

Woo hoo! Does that mean we may see her flipping burgers? :-)

Here in the US we don't have a true "upperclass."
Because all too often those in the "upperclass" have no class. Like Ted (hic) Kennedy.
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From:everyl
Date:July 31st, 2007 12:19 pm (UTC)

Re: One bit of good news along those lines...

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There are many millions of dollars between Paris Hilton and burger-flipping right now. Just because she doesn't stand to inherit anything doesn't mean she lost all the money she made from her TV show, product endorsements, etc.

Of course, it does open the possibility of her running herself broke when people eventually stop paying attention to her.
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From:jerseycajun
Date:July 31st, 2007 04:18 am (UTC)
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Well, the one thing I do lament about this country culturally is that we seem to revel in the lowest common denominator. I still don't understand the appeal of people flocking to see "Transformers", which qualifies more as a distraction movie than an action movie, and how we've made the KFC Chicken Bowl as enormously popular as it's become. Think about it, just putting various independent menu items and piling them into a bowl is how one typically feeds a dog.
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From:texas_preacher
Date:July 31st, 2007 04:33 am (UTC)
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hmmm, maybe it's because for most of us we came from the lowest common demoninator, IE our ancestors were servants and what not from other lands, and so we lack the sophistication of blood lines to see past the simple pleasures a movie like Transformers or a movie like Hot Rod will bring us, or the idea that "Hot damn they put all my favorite fixins in one dish. That Sanders fellow is a right fine man"

I'm kidding of course about the inheirent genitc sophistication, but lets face it. The majority of Americans like thigns simple and easy. I'll bet you anything that the guy who suggested the bowl to the KFC heads saw some guy ordering a bunch of seperate things, and then piling them all together into one dish.
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From:roycalbeck
Date:July 31st, 2007 07:46 am (UTC)
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1) Ain't movies supposed to be a distraction?

2) Hate the KFC Chicken Bowl. -:P And that sucks, because I like all the individual parts. You're right, it's a dog's scraps meal.
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From:niall_shapero
Date:July 31st, 2007 02:53 pm (UTC)

Choices...

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It is of interest to note that, during the colonial period, what became the US was used as a "dumping ground" for criminals; it is also of interest to note that, given the choice between "transportation for life" and hanging, many British criminals chose hanging. So life in the Colonies was not exactly the bed of roses that we might, from this historical distance, think it was, even though most of us would have preferred being sent to the Colonies to being strung up by the neck and strangled (me, I'd have taken my chances in the Colonies...even as an indentured servant).

Our revolution forced the Brits to start using Australia for the same purpose.
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From:prodigal_son81
Date:August 3rd, 2007 02:59 am (UTC)

Re: Amen

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Very true, and the revolution happened precisely because Britain wanted to dump it's garbage on the Colonies and forcibly export anything good that came from them at a pittance. When you give nothing, and take everything, that happens.

Also of note, both 'prison dumps' have turned into successful countries, which makes one wonder about the nature of the inmates and their incarceration.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 5th, 2007 04:45 pm (UTC)

Roadrodent comment

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Socialism has largely the same problems as "Kingdoms" and other tightly structured ruling setups. For all its claims of being an "equalizer" of people it is not. There still are "classes" with in it; the governing (Read RULING) class (Which tends to become dynastic over time), the "church" (Read enforcers and propagandists of the group), then various "lower classes" of workers, farmers, and such with outcasts (Read non conformers) at the low level. The thing about socialism is that if ALWAYS falls apart/fails, ALWAYS!!! To me the fact that people continue to try to make it work ("They didn't do it right!" or "They didn't stick with it long enough!") is a sure sign that humans are NOT as smart as they claim to be. And it amuses me the the intellectuals are the ones who push this the most which shows that 1) They learn NOTHING from their study of history or 2) Simply wash to have it because the structuring calls for them to be at the top of the "ladder" if it comes about (A guy from India pointed out that that country was run for decades by the intellectuals promising to take care of all things. Over the last decade or so have the voters figured out that the only people the intellectuals were interested in taking care of were the intellectuals. This the voters have been "going" for others then the "Chrome domes".
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From:rhjunior
Date:August 5th, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC)

Re: Roadrodent comment

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Of course. But the point I was making is that classlessness--- the elimination of the Squire and the Toff--- was the key selling point of Socialism and Communism. Of course, like any other sleazy used car dealer, "this feature not included in some models..."
From:mrinitialman
Date:August 8th, 2007 06:07 am (UTC)

I must admit myself slightly torn

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On one hand, I do agree that family lineage should not be considered in chosing who should or should not rule. On the other hand, the idea of a purely ceremonial monarchy maintained for traditional reasons is attractive to me. I take the Dutch monarchy as my example; in the Netherlands, the crown (i.e. power) belongs to the people, not the House of Orange.

The way I see it, while you cannot allow tradition to hold a nation back, if you are absolutely intent on destroying all national tradition (political or otherwise), eventually anything the people have to relate to is gone.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 28th, 2007 12:23 pm (UTC)

my 2 cents on the subject ...

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First of all I apologize for the improper use of words or reference I could be doing. I am not a native English speaker and my curriculum is nothing but academic.

I am French and as such I might have a better insight on what France used to be than England.
The class system was never as oppressive in France as it was in England. This was due in my opinion to the predominance of catholic churches. Since Phillipe IV "Le Bel" Royal ministers have occurred to be peasant's grandsons or even "Orphans of indeterminate lineage". The catholic church will educate the children of the just anyone since Charlemagne's Edict. They would scout the smart kids and send them to a brighter future if the parents agreed on it. that explains why more orphans had the chance to educate themselves further since most of those with parents would be denied the opportunity on a parent shortsightedness.
as for the revolution ... [well I had to trim that part to comply with the 4300 character length policy]
Let just say it was a huge bloodbath made by greedy demagogues when the situation allowed them too thanks to hallucinated kings (I simplified a lot).
Since then we have had a "democratic power".
some quotes from the last bunch.

C. De Gaulle : "Les Français sont des vaux" (French people are calves (pej. animal))
F. Mitterand "Je me suis accordé plus de pouvoir qu'aucun monarque absolu". (I granted myself more power than any absolute monarch).

(Chirac having plenty but all equally uninteresting and food oriented mostly.)

Yes we DO have a ruling class. Any office worker slaved by a law abusing employer knows what being of the lower class is. And right now there is no chance someone "without the right connections" will ever make it big.
But in my humble opinion that is NOT the worst.
The worst is knowing the guy you are working under (and probably will work under for the same two years before being unemployed again) is an illiterate, weak minded, idiot to boot, but was born in the "right community" with the "right connections" and that there is nothing to change that. Those people will benefit of your earnest work while your wages will look like charity.

I didn't watch country house ... only seen an episode of the german version which was a bit inaccurate ... and flawed from start too. What makes it painful is seeing a physician in real life playing a servant for a high school grade educated man. You can feel the distortion between the social status and their potentials and that is what may be painful. But anyone can feel sorry for himself for the same exact reason in modern societies.

I have been long and maybe digressing ... It was heartfelt though and I hope any who reads it can relate to it somehow. But I'd like to quote a phrase I eared a lot when younger, it should translate as : "Class is only a preoccupation for those who naturally lack it". This phrase was used to humble those who would pretend to a high status even at young age.

As for population in the US. I know by experience many a second son of noble french family (hence deserving nothing of the inheritance till the end of 19th century) sailed to America to make a name for himself. Deported people might have been numerous at start in America but strong willed immigrants with both class and strong will came there too. From a french point of view the pioneer spirit is one of the highest values, we did in our time numerous colonies or settlements all over the world and all of them have seen their count of sweat and blood.

To conclude I'd like to remind you that former ruling class was named Aristocracy from greek word "Aristos" which means "the best". At the beginning such a title would be earned on the fields, the hunt or the battlefield. By providing food to your people or protecting it from harm. For me, being the best at what you do still makes you an aristocrat, whether you are a bus driver or a general. Both are needed and both can do their work with or without class.

Jehan a french reader.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:September 4th, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)
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ovuasly u dnt get out much
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From:rhjunior
Date:September 4th, 2007 08:24 pm (UTC)
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But at least I can reach across the desk for a dictionary.