The old aristocracy lived among people who could not hope to attain similar status and felt some obligation to provide for their assistance. American history is rife with examples of socialites advancing causes such as poor relief, better education, even efforts to squelch alcoholism through the Temperance movement. In many cases, it was wives of the wealthy who took on such social causes, free to move in the civil sphere and not yet obligated—or “liberated”—to pursue careers. But as the new meritocracy has congregated together and intermarried, it has left behind the losers of the talent sweepstakes, dividing the nation not only into Red and Blue but perceived winners and losers. The question becomes, whose responsibility is it to help the losers?
Members of the meritocracy are well aware of whom they have left behind, and rather than assuming the personal obligation of old to those less fortunate, they elect instead to pay an impersonal middleman—government—to deal with the aftereffects of what Wendell Berry has called the “strip-mining” of talent from every town and hamlet in the world. At the same time, they demand that everyone else pay up as well—what would have been personal forms of responsibility have instead been spread to the entire population, including those they purport to succor. As Christopher Lasch wrote, “obligation, like everything else, has been depersonalized; exercised through the agency of the state, the burden of supporting it falls not on the professional and managerial class but, disproportionately, on the lower-middle and working class.”
That's Patrick J. Deneen.
Ever wonder where all those Rockefeller Republicans went? Here's the answer.