If you spend a long enough time amongst “Conservatism, Inc.,” you really start to get a feel for the foibles of that tribe. One of these being a certain beltway breed that feels the need to LARP as a gentleman or bang on about noblesse oblige. The Trump phenomenon is sending these blazered brains into bouts of hysteria.
Over at everyone’s favorite rag of yesterday’s liberalism, the National Review, AEI fellow and Wall Street Journal contributor (so fancy) Michael Auslin is here to bemoan our “vapidity,” especially regarding the “rise of Donald Trump.” He contrasts this with what early 20th century American man of letters Van Wyck Brooks calls the “Boston and Cambridge type”:
A clear, distinct mentality, a strong distaste for nonsense, steady composure, a calm and gentle demeanor, stability, good principles, intelligence, a habit of under-statement, a slow and cautious way of reasoning, contempt for extravagance, vanity and affectation, kindness of heart, purity, decorum, profound affections, filial and paternal.
Ah, but for those vanished times when “civility” reigned and our elites had such great “virtues” as Auslin waxes on about! Indeed, where would we be without these great New England WASP avatars? Wait, what did I say? Did I acknowledge race? Mr. Auslin would be shocked!
But the truth of the matter is that the concept of the gentleman and noblesse oblige in general exists as a duty between an elite and their people. Though the America of Brooks’ day was rapidly changing, there still existed a conscious racial type to the American character. So much so, that that fount of insidious racism Time Magazine gave full space to advertise the works of that quintessential “Boston and Cambridge” type Lothrop Stoddard.
Memo to the lame-as-hell “DC trad” crowd: donning a coat and tie and speaking in an exaggerated mid-Atlantic accent does not make one a gentleman or representative of some long-lost ruling class. Fealty to one’s people and their interests does. Our ancestors had the luxury of civility in their politics because they had a civilization.
Ours is rapidly deteriorating into a cesspool of dystopic and alienated actors. What we need isn’t some platitudinous paean to virtues of yesteryear, what we need is a people and a civilization that merits our loyalty and duty. Until then, all “gentlemanly” and “virtuous” pretense aside, it’s just another postmodern (and pathetic) lifestyle choice.
P.S. Mr. Auslin talks of the appeal of Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option.” I hate to break it to him, but our people are our monasteries and the raiders are outside the walls. Either take a stand, in true noble and virtuous fashion, or admit that you’re a coward.