From Burckhardt's History of Greek Culture:
The question would be if this model of a splendid culture and society is at all possible in our modern and degenerate age of cities of millions, ideologies, mass movements, and the like. If one asks if it is relevant the reply is that it has to be because it is the one and superior form of social and political organization, regardless of time and place; if it is "irrelevant" to modern life because impossible in modern life, then this speaks to the irreducible mediocrity of modern life. If one answers that as an individual one may excel even in modern life or lead a life of aesthetic contemplation and escape the trend of the age, then the reply again would be that this is an implicit concession that only a desperate and risky "second best" solution is possible in our age.
The "urban patriciate" or patriarchate that Burckhardt mentions here--and which in the Italian Renaissance led to a similar flowering of physical and mental and cultural excellence--is also taken by Strauss and some Straussians (like Bloom) to be the kind of social class that is throughout history the only sure friend of philosophers. They are therefore eager to form some type of this gentleman within liberal mass democracy, as the prerequisite of the higher life of the mind and culture, and ultimately the safeguard of philosophy. I think this is naive and don't think that such a class can either be educated or bred today; or suppose that it could, but then it can't be sustained and propagated for any period beyond one or two generations. Certainly the Straussian attempt to educate such a class of gentlemen has degenerated into parody, as any honest Straussian will tell you in private. What then is the solution? Only Straussians have thought about this, and even if their solution is bad, at least they haven't forgotten what is important. I don't speak about all Straussians of course.
But forgetting Strauss for a moment, the problem still remains that among all the great political crises that face Western peoples today, and the white race--which is the biological prerequisite of genius--the successful resolution of ALL of them would still leave us back to square one with respect to this one greatest fault. Which is to say, that there is no reform and no project possible within the context of modern mass societies that can reconstitute such a "splendid society" of aristocratic agonism and its breeding of supreme forms of excellence.