Magazine August 16, 2010, Issue

Status Hiatus

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, June 10, 2010 (Richard Clement/Reuters)
Conservatism should recognize the value of a refuge from social hierarchy

No wonder the Curzons (George Nathaniel, KG, First Marquess Curzon of Kedleston and Viceroy of India, was one of them) placed Thalia, the muse of comedy, on the parapet of Kedleston Hall, their seat in Derbyshire. She bears witness to a truth that has long bedeviled philanthropists, reformers, and the tender-minded in general: Aristocracy always has the last laugh.

A curious fate has decreed that, as society grows ever more democratic, large numbers of people should become ever more aristocratic, in inward fantasy if not (to judge from contemporary manners) in external fact. Proust, we now know, was right when he

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 in August.

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