French faced the Bastille!
What about India? Indian aristocrats a bunch of cowards? Now, a bunch of self-seekers?
Aristocracy is all about more than money and breeding!
You must fight for the country and the values!
Who are all the aristocrats? Who can become the aristocrats?
Rich men are no aristocrats; they are jeered at as boors often!
Yes, such questions often crop up some times in certain social circles. Given the pretentious, nay we might even say the cowardly atmosphere that prevails in the India today, such questions might be suppressed but they remain and they concern very much every one of the society.
Talk of high society then you come up with this question.
A society can’t be an equal society where everyone is equal before the law but not equal in terms of individual capabilities.
There are highly gifted people, science, literature or poetry or other skills like entrepreneur skills, they make lots of money and create new wealth, the IT entrepreneurs is one example.
But these new rich, neau riche don’t qualify as aristocrats.
Many are simple boors! The old aristocrats, especially in India, the old Maharajas, and their families had fallen on bad times; they don’t have the resources to live a life of purpose!
Now, who are the aristocrats then?
The talk of aristocrats arises often in Western societies, in the UK, France and other European societies where are still the titled old royal families and they all really aristocrats. In the USA the old rich families, the Rockellers and the Fords are all, yes, aristocrats, in a very meaningful ways.
The British had had a long history of landed families, the old aristocrats and these only gave much of the meaning to aristocratic living and the values and real meanings to the aristocratic life.
I am just now reading through a book, A Social History of Britain between the Wars by Martin Pugh (Vintage) and there is a chapter on aristocracy in Britain as it was between the wars.
I myself had lived with some titled families in Britain when I was an Oxford student. So, also I knew one or two of the boys and girls belonging to these families. One ‘Lady’ Londonderry was an acquaintance. Yes, we used to call with such honorific these boys and girls!
Now, the English went through two world wars and these wars upset the steady social life that was before 1914.
So, today we see in England there is a subdued approach to the old aristocracy.
His 1914 and other Poems give us what patriotism is for a Young England.
Where is the Youth and Patriotism, the money, the self-seekers today?
What I admired about the British aristocracy was that it was once identified with patriotism, the young men from these families went to wars, in 1914 and 1918, specially in the 1914 war, some of the best talents from these families were killed so tragically and foolishly, a war that was so foolish, even India lost a great deal of men, so foolish was this barbarism.
My blood boils whenever I pass by the martyrs column in Bangalore and I used to curse the fate of the leaders who joined and supported the British in this war.
In fact, I can’t write about Britain or the Indians of the time when the world wars were thrust upon an innocent world by the fools who ruled the world.
Now, if aristocracy is to be justified and admired then we have to search for some higher ideals like patriotism. Yes, the First World War led to so much sacrifice, I read some of the First World War poets, Rupert Brooke and Sigfried Sassoon and others and they bring back so much emotions and feelings of helplessness over the wars.
Let us only hope we don’t have to face such a calamity again.
It is this heightened sense of war and peace that much impart any talk of a gifted section of society, be they aristocrats or plain robber barons.
I have to be true to myself and I am an admirer of the aristocratic values and sentiments.
The big and beautiful country houses of Britian, the chateaux of the Loire Valley in France I have seen and appreciated.
The great Versailles in France is an embodiment of much that is unique and much that is folly as well. But for the Versailles, the world would have been a poorer place in terms of such beauty, the decorative arts, the furniture, the places and the gardens and the furnishings and the porcelain and much else.
For promoting and protecting culture, higher culture of reading and book printing and book propagating, I read the Venice of the 14th and 15th century, the violin making, the piano making and the promotion of music and opera and the dance and other arts, these were all possible in those times thanks to the Medicis and the other big aristocratic houses.
Yes, the rich create repulsion in modern day times.
There is a great deal of social change. Moneyed men are hated by the mass of the poor and the reason: the rise of democracy and democratic consciousness. Who can deny and I am of the firm opinion that thanks to the rise of a democratic consciousness, the new capitalism is under check from the old abuses. Slavery, the indentured labour, the denial of rights and social obligations, the old capitalism was reviled the world over.
Today, the situation today is very different. The wars of the past seem to have gone from man’s mind. The world is free from the ghastly wars of the 1914 and 1918 and the rise of extremisms, the Communists and Nazists are of course gone forever.
The new extremists, the terrorism of the new kind is with us today, no doubt.
So, what the new billionaires and the millionaires have to give? What they can contribute?
Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have now come out with the Giving Pledge by that they have pledged donate for public good, public charity 50% of their wealth.
May be we are in for a new millennium where the new aristocrats must set a good example. Good manners and etiquette, the new social behaviour, a new compassion can impart the living of the rich today.
Let us see.
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