Magazine September 7, 2009, Issue

Revenge of the Castle People

(Domenico Il Quaglio/Bridgeman Art Library/Getty)
Reagan and Thatcher revived the principles of the marketplace. Can we restore its culture?

Relations between the aristocrat and the common man have never been easy. The antipathy between castle people, who dwell in the manor house, and agora people, children of the marketplace, runs like a fault line through the moral landscape of the West. The chasm is already evident in the Iliad, in the thrashing Odysseus gives Thersites; Proust, in the 20th century, was as conscious of the gulf when he insisted that the “misunderstanding” between the upper castes and their bourgeois inferiors was “complete.”

The marketplace came out on top. Democracy vanquished feudalism. Or so we like to pretend: There are suburbs

Michael Knox Beran — Mr. Beran is a lawyer and writer. His book WASPs: The Splendors and Miseries of an American Aristocracy is to be published this year.

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