“Edmund Burke, meet Tom Paine.
“Indeed, Campbell’s comment reminded me of that moment in Burke where he drops all talk of little platoons and local tradition and starts insisting that the aristocracy and the counterrevolution reinvent themselves as “citizens” of Europe. So “sympathetic with the adversity or the happiness of mankind” should counterrevolutionary Britain be, he writes in the Letters on a Regicide Peace, that “nothing in human foreign affairs,” and certainly nothing in revolutionary France, would be “foreign to her.” Were the counterrevolution to think this way, he sighs dreamily, “no citizen of Europe could be altogether an exile in any part of it.” And the aristocracy might just have a fighting chance of preserving itself.”
I just heard Ari Shapiro report on NPR about an effort in Britain to “modernize” the aristocracy by allowing women of the nobility to inherit the titles and estates of their fathers.
Current British law requires that all heirs to titles and estates be male. No one on the show mentioned the most obvious step to modernity: abolish the titled aristocracy altogether.
There was a time when the battle against sexism and the battle against the aristocracy were thought to be one and the same. No more. As Lady Liza Campbell, one of the aggrieved heiresses-in-waiting, told Shapiro:
Nowhere should girls be born less than their brother. Yes, it’s the aristocracy. You may want to hold a peg over your nose. But it’s still sexism. You can be an atheist and support the idea of women bishops, I think.
It’s easy to pooh-pooh and laugh at this sort of…
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