1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

The nature of aristocracy

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Tahuti, Jun 16, 2014.

  1. Tolina

    Tolina trust the pillars with your s e c r e t s

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2013
    Messages:
    10,491
    Location:
    Nightvale, US
    And now we just derailed this thread. I feel kind of proud, I guess?
     
  2. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2002
    Messages:
    22,302
    Location:
    San Antonio, Texas
    No way man, that was my favorite post in the thread. We gotta talk about it.
     
  3. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    26,698
  4. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    9,492
    Gender:
    Male
    Tolni, IRL, I am using "HELLO" pronounced with a heavy Slavic (Bulgarian?) accent to notify I am in the vicinity of Bulgarians or Eastern Europeans in general. Do you encounter that commonly? Are you even aware of it?

    It probably has origins in the fact how Bulgarians still retain their accent when English, especially when they say "HELLO".

    EDIT: This thread will not work in its original purpose, so I have decided to play along with the "HELLO" thing.
     
  5. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton How much Parmesan to put on your umbrella?

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2006
    Messages:
    10,094
    So I'd presume social power means to get others to do want I want. So social inequality means that one has an easier time to get people to do what he or she wants than someone else.
    Yep I agree that it seems impossible to not have such inequality. It starts with the mere ability to convince people. With looks, general patterns of behavior etc...
    On the other hand, such inequality knows immense room for variation. It accounts for the most mundane social phenomena just as for grand soul-crushing social structures smashing any resistance.
    So I don't think it is very productive to speak about social inequality as such. Just way too diverse of a phenomena.
    More interesting is talk about different manifestations of social inequality.

    An example: From my experience when I have the task of having a presentation for university with say two others and when I find myself engaged with this task I tend to have greater social power than my partners regarding the realization of the presentation. Saying: I tend to position myself as the unofficial head of the team.
    Social inequality right there.
    But what kind of social inequality? My authority entirely depends on my group partners allowing me to have it. And on me making contributions to the project which reproduce this authority. It is also not a rigid inequality. Someone else may take charge at a juncture or many times during the project development the inequality may dissolve itself to almost perfect equality for a time being.
    The point I see here is that social inequality can be channeled in many ways and some are decidedly more egalitarian than others. The point is that social inequality is in principle just as much a part of cooperation and egalitarianism as it is of competition and hierarchy.
     
  6. Tolina

    Tolina trust the pillars with your s e c r e t s

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2013
    Messages:
    10,491
    Location:
    Nightvale, US
    Doubt I'm aware of it. What would even "Slavic accent" even mean? I either encounter it so often I don't pay attention, or maybe I just don't go really around saying "Heyoo, I'm Bulgarian!".
     
  7. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton How much Parmesan to put on your umbrella?

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2006
    Messages:
    10,094
    A post more on topic:

    I think there are definitely principle advantages to the ruling class being an outright nobility.
    - Continuity - The people in charge will tend to know their stuff
    - Responsibility - The people in charge will tend to think more in the long term and in general will more (have to) identify with the success or failures of their policies
    - Independence - The people in charge will be less interested in smoke and mirrors over substance or in their personal career over the success of their politics

    Downsides I see
    - Instability of the whole system - democratic institutions have a pacifying effect, people have an easier time to render to them than institutions of an outright ruling class. The "I rule over you" - part is a bit too much in their face
    - Supremacy of the interests of the elite. That of course is not a problem unique to an political aristocracy, but in this case it seems to be outright institutionalized
    - Comfort bubble - The good thing about the mutual competition of democratic institutions is that not only the media or the people but the political class itself will look for screw-ups

    That they focus way too much on elite interests is a huge huge potential issue. And by that I am also referring to corruption.
    In the end I think that such a political aristocracy can be good for economic development. Because that will tend to enrich the aristocracy. Not unlike like in China (or Singapore?). On all other avenues I think it will tend to fare worse.
     
  8. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    26,698
    I don't think it's a good idea at all.

    Look how family businesses go: you start with an enterprising individual who builds it up, the son takes it on and loses interest, the grandson squanders the lot on fast cars and women.

    Long-lasting family businesses are disappearingly rare.
     
  9. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    9,492
    Gender:
    Male
    Samsung is a family business. Seems to be doing okay. Japan actually has family businesses to back to the 800s.

    China has an elite, though I wouldn't call it an aristocracy. It lacks a sacral element. Anyway, the aristocracy's leverage was historically (i.e. middle ages) restrained by a sense of honour and social norms.
     
  10. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton How much Parmesan to put on your umbrella?

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2006
    Messages:
    10,094
    Honor and social norms... sorry but I can not help but feel that you are more interested in the idealization and mystification of aristocracy than its reality.
    Lets look at the honor and social norms of the knight nobility - protector of the weak eh? In the Holy Roman Empire there was a rule that they could legally take in debts by force if you previously declared your intention to do so. Over the years, what was meant as an "honorable" fight over unsettled debt turned into a pretense to legally simply rob people and cities.

    It basically goes against everything I have learned over the years to actually expect an aristocracy to stay true to their honor and social norms. Except perhaps that kind of honor that is just a fancy word for not being ones female dog.

    I just can wonder - where you do take this faith into the virtuousness of aristocracy from?

    This sacral element to me merely means that certain power structures are fully officially cemented and beyond discussion. That strengthens aristocrats. I don't see how it makes them saints. Or that it ever did.
     
  11. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    9,492
    Gender:
    Male
    If one lacks virtue, one should not be called an aristocrat, even if one is formally considered such. It is what distinguishes aristocracy from mere rule of the strong or plutocracy.
     
  12. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton How much Parmesan to put on your umbrella?

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2006
    Messages:
    10,094
    So you actually want a Platonian tyrant or rather class of tyrants, do I get this right? (that was from Plato, right?)
    Well if there was a way to ensure that virtues awesome perfect people ruled I would be in favor of aristocracy as well. Just really don't see it happening.
     
  13. Pangur Bán

    Pangur Bán Deconstructed

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2002
    Messages:
    9,017
    Location:
    Transtavia
    Comments in this thread are truly depressing.

    Aristocracy is not a past form of social organization, it is very much alive and healthy. In most of the Western world a court-centred system of honours and titles isn't alive (or is at least peripheral to the social system), but that's not what aristocracy ever was. You think because the Wall street banker taking the silver out of your coins doesn't go about with a title or dress like a 18th-century French count that he's not an aristocrat? Does a Bush or Clinton or Kennedy need to go around in ermine to constitute a ruler to be?
     
  14. Old Hippy

    Old Hippy Chieftain

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Messages:
    3,407
    linage and nobility are all important, like here nothing is better than being able to trace your ancestors back to being on the 'first fleet' to settle in Sydney...
    and finding that they were convicts, instead of trival prison guards and buhrangers are the equiverlant of ancient kings
     
  15. Tarquelne

    Tarquelne Follower of Tytalus

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2001
    Messages:
    3,715
    Ha.

    The excuses justifying any unearned privilege are almost completely different, and a Bush or a Clinton or a Kennedy has to hire a several lawyers to figuratively chop off somebody's head.

    I don't see any resemblance at all.

    OR:

    I think it'd be a mistake to use the old term for the new thing, even if there are a lot of similarities. "Aristocrat" has quite a bit of truth to it, but so many of the implications are off. How about "plutocrat?" We can also have "celebocrats."

    OTOH, I don't think there's anything really wrong with "rich bastards."
     
  16. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2009
    Messages:
    15,651
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    You've missed the major disadvantage - ruling a country is a difficult job which takes extremely able people, and the chance of the sons of a few inbred noble families fitting into that category in sufficient numbers is nil. It works, frankly, when countries don't need governing; the influence of central government in the lives of most people prior to about 1830 was negligible, so it made little difference that aristocrats were holding all of the government positions.
     
  17. Pangur Bán

    Pangur Bán Deconstructed

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2002
    Messages:
    9,017
    Location:
    Transtavia
    But the abstracted 'aristocracy' people are discussing here is a historical fantasy. Property is more hereditary now that it ever was in the Middle Ages, and the bulk of the societies being described here as 'aristocratic' weren't as remotely inaccessible as the modern corporate and political elite. If 'aristocratic' means decision making is done by a small exclusive elite who all know each other and sustain their power bases by alliance with each other, modern America is much more 'aristocratic' than medieval England.
     
  18. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    26,698
    Medieval Europe was largely feudal. That's a different kettle of fish altogether.
     
  19. Pangur Bán

    Pangur Bán Deconstructed

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2002
    Messages:
    9,017
    Location:
    Transtavia
    That's very debatable and controversial even for 'feudal' heartlands like France. But why do you draw a distinction between 'feudal' and 'aristocratic'?
     
  20. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    26,698
    Well, thinking about it now, I don't know, tbh.

    I was idly following your train of thought from Clinton and Bush being "aristocratic" to feudal societies.

    I panicked and made a rash statement.
     

Share This Page