When a person acquires a fortune, whether by his own merit or inheritance, two roads lie before him: He can take the arduous road to secure for himself, or his descendants, an entrance into the traditional elites; or he can take the easy path, becoming a toad.
The road of assimilation into the traditional elites
Along this high road one finds the person who is not overly concerned with increasing his fortune. Instead, he strives to assimilate the values of European tradition and culture, with a view to attaining appropriate social status. The prudent and judicious management of his patrimony permits a refined lifestyle analogous to that of the aristocracy. As long as his patrimony suffices to maintain his acquired status, and as long as he upholds cultural values corresponding to his position, he feels satisfied. His prestige derives more from his social status after all, not his bank account. Accordingly, he is largely independent of the maxims governing a revolutionary society, the impositions of high finance, the imperatives of certain extravagant styles, and the “hype” of media propaganda. He can perfect himself to the point of assimilation into the traditional elites, whether at the regional or national level.
The road of the toads
Others take the low road of revolutionary pragmatism, despising tradition and, above all, striving to acquire ever more disproportionate temporal treasures and ever more monopolistic economic power.
Their fixed idea is that money is the sole source of prestige, and they drive themselves to acquire it at all costs, recklessly launching themselves into the world of international finance and heedlessly breaking the ties that bind them to the nation’s traditions. Entirely absorbed with business, they lack that spirit of equanimity proper to authentic aristocracy.
Nonetheless, the descendants of toads can acquire an aristocratic spirit if they abandon this superficial appetite for wealth and pleasure and strive to desire spiritual and cultural goods.
Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII: A Theme Illuminating American Social History (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), American Appendix, pp. 189-190.
Nobility.org Editorial Comment: —
Two roads, two mindsets, two guiding principles, two very different weltanschauungs.
Broadly speaking, one can say that authentic elites subscribe to a rule of honor, while toads subscribe to a rule of money.
The first group believes that quality and the goods of the spirit, for example, tradition, refinement, manners, hierarchy, honor, loyalty, heroism, culture, beauty in art, music, literature, etc. are the expressions of what is best and most virtuous in the human soul. Accordingly, these values should have preeminence over money.
The materialistic mindset of inauthentic elites blinds them to the treasures of this world of tradition and quality and their scale of values is defined by money and quantity.