The Erosion of the Classes

Antique Scales, Photo by Piret Liver

Modern society is dedicated to the material matters in life over the transcendent and this is wreaking havoc on the conventional classes of men. Our managerial ruling class has promoted a classless, uniform society to the detriment of the traditional classes. Men no longer realize why they should accept their place as a peasant, priest, warrior, or merchant. In this essay, we will focus on the transcendent to reckon with the material. Each traditional class has a divine aspect to it, and we will need to focus on that aspect to restore the customary castes in society. The key is to concentrate on what the moral mortar is that each class provides to society and not just the physical role that it fills.

A single word can be used to describe the role each class has in society and which points to the sublime character of that class. Let us start with the worker class. ‘Peasants’, ‘plebs’, and ‘serfs’ all are terms that have been used in the past to describe the people who make up this class. The nominal term, ‘worker’ sums up the substantive aspect of what this class brings to society and that is why we use the word toil’ to identify the valuable essence of this class. This is the largest class of the traditional four and most of society is made up of those who toil. From manufacturing hands to trades, to retail service, to industry, this segment of society toils daily.  Because of the numerosity of this class and the menial character of their place in society, this class is often viewed with a dismissive eye. To do so would be a mistake. Every class has a value that exceeds its material benefits to the public and this class is no different. The toil of a worker is often thought the end of what his class is here for, but it is not the end but the means. What society receives from the toil of the worker class is beauty. What is more beautiful than the finished product of a skilled craftsman or the composition of a superb musician? Or the artisan who captures the essence of the moment and thought with his art or even the mechanic that precisely tunes the machine to the apex of performance. Beauty is created through work, through toil. Even though this class is the most common, as this caste fails in its role of creative toiling, beauty fades from society.

Our word for the priestly class is ‘truth’. Society has considered ‘truth’, whether physical or metaphysical, sacred or secular, gathered through science or séance, to be the quintessential purview of the priestly class.  The modern version of the priestly truth seeker, along with your traditional priest, would be the intellectual professional: the doctor, lawyer, chemist, the academic, and perhaps the engineer. The search for truth has been the means, but not the end to the traditional societal role of the priest.  When we look at what sets on the other side of truth, we find the sublime value of freedom. Why does the physician seek a cure for disease? To free the patient from the bondage of illness. Why does the barrister use the law to seek relief for his client? To either keep the accused free or keep society free from the accused. Why does the holy man pronounce truth from the pulpit? To deliver the parishioner from the evil that enslaves him. The priest has it on good authority that you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.

Let’s continue the alliteration with our next class, the warrior class. The worker has his ‘toil’, the priest his ‘truth’, and the warrior his ‘trial’. The trial is what the warrior must come against. The soldier encounters the enemy; the policeman, the criminal; the fireman, the fire; the athlete, the contest; the explorer, the frontier. The warrior class is the one that faces the explicit enemies of civilization head-on. He is the one tasked with the trial and he steps forward willingly. Once again, when we focus on the transcendent aspect of this class, we find that the trial is the means but security is the end. Some might say that the end is honour or glory, but this is really just the currency that the warrior deals in and a byproduct of what happens when the warrior stands in the trial and is victorious (and even at times when he isn’t victorious, but simply stands). The warrior class is to provide security for the society that lets it function. The soldier secures society from outside threats and the magistrate from those within. Emergency personnel provide security to the community in the event of a disaster, personal or public, and lets people know that there are people who stand between them and tragedy. Words like vigilance and fidelity are used to describe the expected conduct of the warrior class.

The final class we will look at is the merchant class and it has its detractors. Most would like to see most of this class strung up by its profit and loss statements and not be regarded as a necessary part of society, but we must be willing to restore the balance that belongs in a well-functioning society. The merchant class has a part to play in society and that part has a divine aspect to it just as much as the worker, the warrior, and the priest. The word that describes the function of the merchant is the word ‘trade’. Merchants are in society to facilitate trade and at the most basic level, we must all trade. This material trait provides an immaterial product, and that is satisfaction. When you freely trade a good for a good, a service for a service, or some mixture of the two, you are satisfying your need by satisfying someone else’s need. Trade is meant to satisfy hunger, housing, and leisure. It satisfies the need for conveyance and clothing, energy, and entertainment.  Freely trading brings material satisfaction to our lives and immaterial comfort when our needs are met.

I would like to note that there can be, and often is, an occupation that merges different classes of society. My profession is an excellent example of such a merger. A pharmacist is an intellectual professional who uses his skill, knowledge, and training to keep people from harm and to cure illnesses. He also supplies the items prescribed for people’s ailments and conditions. The profession is an old one. Once called apothecaries, the pharmacist gives freedom from sickness and harm by using the truth he knows about medicine and satisfies the patient by trading with him the medicine when he needs it. He is both a priest and merchant.

The classes, however, have succumbed to an imbalance of influence that often comes when certain people want power. The ruling elites have used the merchant class as a mechanism of control to subjugate the other classes. Mercantile managerials have ignored the divine aspect of their own class to its detriment as the new ruling class has sought to reduce every aspect of life to a material nature. Everything must be seen in the light of consummation or meeting the physical need. The merchant class has convinced itself that essential trade must give way to endless transactions. The merchant class has convinced the working class that ‘toil’ is tiresome, and that the plebs need not work at all to contribute. Or even worse, that the creative work that once defined them should be replaced with works of degeneracy and deconstruction, replacing beauty with banality. The assault on work has resulted in society becoming less beautiful, year after year as plastic replaces purpose. Music, art, quality of goods and services, and even food have suffered as the creative ‘toil’ of the workers has dissipated.

The priestly class has bowed to the managerial elites by bending the knee of knowledge. The merchants have convinced the priestly class to trade in transactional truth where reality is relative. Once it is relative, it is negotiable. It is now the cultural norm on the left and the right to consider truth qualified and up for debate. Capital ‘T’ truth is no longer the standard of value but is instead a commodity that can be bought and sold by as much fiat as Managerial mechanisms can print. The freedom that Truth brings is no longer available. There is no Truth in medicine, only treatments, which of course are slavishly transactional (Do you have your twelfth jab yet?). There is no Truth in law, only technicality, as the administrative state enforces equity upon the servants of the system. There is no Truth in theology, only travesty, as the pulpit permits abhorrent, alphabetic abominations. When Truth is up for bid, Liberty stands on the slave block of the Managerials.

The last class to capitulate to the assault of the merchant elite has been the warrior class. It has withstood the longest because it has held to tradition the longest. It is the class most admired by society because of what it has been willing to do for society. It has stood between the enemy and the innocent, whatever the fashion. The progress of co-opting this class by the elite has been slow but they have mostly succeeded by convincing this caste that it must be inclusive. Variety, not valour, is what the mercantile elites have sold the warrior class. This class has been inundated by those who have no concept of security for others, but only glory for themselves. The self-absorbed profiteers, of both money and glory, have turned this class into the gendarmes of the new ruling class as secret security has replaced a society that is secure.

And so, we have a bleak picture of the state of the traditional classes of men. But as I always like to say, give me the bad news first, because without the bad news I can’t explain the Good News. The purpose of this essay was to get the reader to focus on how each class has an aspect to it that transcends its place in society, making it part of something bigger. Toil, Truth, Trial, and Trade lead to Beauty, Freedom, Security, and Satisfaction when in their proper place. This will not happen on a whim or because we desire it so. The Good News, however, is that we already have a standard for achieving a restoration of the traditional classes. That standard is Christ. The strongman that some look for has already come. The Toil has already been done by the Beautiful work of the Cross. The Truth has brought us Freedom through our Great High Priest. The Trial has been faced which gives us Security in Him. The Great Comforter has Traded his life for ours, redeeming us, and giving us eternal Satisfaction. This is where the transcendent transforms the material. Uniformity of class is countered by the unity in Christ. Each man is meant to fill his role, first in Him, then in society. Benjamin de Constant observed the coming tyrannical tendency in 1814, “Variety is organization; uniformity is mechanism. Variety is life; uniformity is death.” He ultimately backed the strongman of the day in opposition to the democratic despotism before him and it ended badly for the society he was in. For us to restore men to their proper roles in society, it will be important for us to focus on the sublime strongman who has already given meaningful morality to the traditional classes. He will not fail.

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