James Leroy Wilson's blog

Friday, June 03, 2005

Is Meritocracy Overrated? Or, Don't Call Me Mister

Vache Folle on social rank:

An Esquire is someone who is more than a gentleman but less than a knight. ...

Indeed, most lawyers are not even gentlemen. A gentlemen is properly understood as being an untitled member of the aristocracy and who, by virtue of his wealth, is not obliged to work for a living. Both independent means and high birth are required. I have neither; therefore, I am not a gentleman. There is no meritocratic way to become a gentleman, and there is no authority which can confer this honor upon one. You are born a gentleman (if you are), and you remain one until you somehow disgrace yourself.

I consider myself a yeoman, a tradesman of the middle class, and the scion of more or less respectable working men and women and small farmers. There is nothing to be despised in being a yeoman, and pretensions to more exalted rank show considerable disrespect for what is probably the most productive class in our society.

Failure to observe appropriate distinctions in rank also leads to the misassignment of roles to meritocratic pretenders that properly belong to the aristocracy. Where are our great men who ought to serve as statesmen and leaders in our communities? The usurpation of the roles of the aristocracy has allowed and encouraged the upper classes to evade their responsibilities. What man of quality would stand for Congress when that institution is populated by striving meritocrats and has become a den of corruption and thievery? What man of quality would accept a commission in the armed forces when commissions can be had by anyone and when service has become a job?

So, don't call me Esquire or even Mister. Just call me by my given name. Respect me if I am respectable for who I am, not for what I might pretend to be.

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