Thursday, April 28, 2016

the children of modern minor aristocracy all have PhDs, but still can't ward off the untutored genius

In the old days, even when you became a hereditary aristocrat because you sort of 'earned' your great power and wealth by your sheer talent, drive and aggression, deep down you knew it was very unlikely your kids and grandkids were going exhibit all that drive.

In part because growing up wealthy and established tends to take the edge off of drive and aggression.

So in the past, for tens of thousands of years, you ensured your dumber and lazier kids and grands would share in your own achievements long after you were dead by investing in lands, lots of it.

("Buy land - they don't make it anymore.")

The rural family manorial estate, home of the minor aristocracy.

(Think of owning lots of stock market bluechip shares as being today's manorial estate.)

This land was rented out to others to work and your dumb/lazy kids and grandkids lived high off the rents these tenants returned to them.

The prairies killed the minor aristocracy

But the mid-19th century development of massive areas of good farmland overseas, combined with far cheaper ocean transport, put such pressure on minor aristocratic estates that it soon seemed that its income could no provide the expected wealthy lifestyle for the principal son, let alone the rest of the family.

Worse, after voting in the 1830s was expanded to include the upper middle class, these ingrates exerted pressure to see that the traditional sinecures for the younger sons of the minor landed aristocracy - the military, civil service, established church and professions - were now open to them.

Open to them, via competitive exams among university graduates who had truly earned their degrees.

(Before the 1840s, only would-be clerics went to university to actually learn, the rest - the spawn of the landed gentry - just went to party.)

Soon it became clear that continuing to invest your wealth in increasingly less valuable agricultural land to secure the future of your children faced yet another major hurdle - on your death, when it was finally handed over to your children, more and more of its value was being taxed away.

Minor aristocracy reborn as tenured profs

But if you instead took your existing wealth and invested it - now - in 25 years of your children's education - from governess and Montessori at birth to subsidizing your mid twenties children's wandering postdoc hand-to-mouth existence until a suitable tenured job opened up - you could make them permanent members of the new (minor) aristocracy and escape death taxes.

With all that exposure to the very best in education and by 25 years of sheer rote of repetition, they would to absorbed at least a bit of it.

Enough to make them part of the "fettered talented", safe with their expensive PhD from a good university, safe in their own narrow discipline silo and consistently hitting discipline-oriented targets few ordinary mortals could hit.

But they were still unlikely to succeed at the truly megalevel.

The top of world aristocracy is always the unfettered genius

And thus to become members of today's top level aristocracy.

Because that was the exclusive home of the unfettered and untutored genius : because, as Schopenhauer noted long ago, only they could contrive hit targets that no one else can even see.

Which Ivy League university did Satchmo ever go to ? Which topranked college did Steve Jobs ever graduate from ?

The genius has talent and drive, yes for sure, but in addition they have a willingness and even eagerness to transgress boundaries and to miscegenate all the speciated silos of disciplines that the limited-in-talent 'new minor aristocracy' uses to secure their precarious positions near the top of the human hierarchy.

It was the ability of the Jews to fill and succeed in the difficult new niches (mostly because they were denied entry into the easier but closed traditional avenues to success) that made them so feared within academic silos around the world from the 1870s to the 1960s.

One thinks of Jewish success in new hybrid cultural industries like movies and their success in new hybrid sciences like bio-chemistry.

For in a way these Jewish left field successes represented to the new minor aristocracy the new face of their most feared bugaboo : the unfettered genius.....

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