Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is America an Aristocracy?

According to Caligula for President: Better American Living Through Tyranny by Cintra Wilson (quoted on BoingBoing):

I humbly suggest that you take a moment to gaze at the family tree of a few members of your ruling class. Any of them. Take your pick. The Kennedys, the Lees, the Bushes, the Rockefellers, the DuPonts, the Daleys, the Dulleses, the Gores, the Johnsons, the Adamses, the Roosevelts...

Actually, don't bother. I always suspected that the Washington Monument wasn't modeled on an erect phallus so much as on a modern interpretation of the ideal imperial family tree: one that doesn't branch off at all. Just one big, vertical, erect log of incestuous monarchy (with all the power in the world concentrated right on the end of my tip, ho ho).

It's an odds-on favorite that if one laid enough Mormon genealogy charts end to end, one could prove either that all these fine families are related or that at least they've all laid each other end to end. Political alliances, after all, have always been made by marriage (Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Julia the Elder? Meet Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, blah blah blah, and nineteen centuries of examples in between). The Gores are related to the Kennedys are related to the Carters and now the Shriverneggers. I have it on good authority that a relative of either the Bush or the Gore families has had a candidate in every presidential election for the last 190 years... and both families happen to be distantly related to the queen of England (which just goes to show you that even while debutantes may have jumped ship and married poets and gurus in the sixties, these ideological and eugenic detours corrected rather quickly once the girls figured out that communal goat farming wasn't as fun as getting their legs waxed and lunching at the Hay-Adams).

On the other hand, if you trace ancestry back far enough, we are all descended from royalty.

On the gripping hand, the time scale for the common descent in the American political class appears to be much less than for the human race as a whole. That might be due to the fact that we prefer Presidents who are not descended from recent immigrants. (IIRC, it took until 1960 to elect a descendant of 19th-century immigrants.) That means the ancestors of American politicians belong to a small (but not very exalted) group.

Lest we forget, the real Caligula was assasinated by the Pretorian Guard … a non-aristocratic group.


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