The origins of the aristocratic contempt for labor is to be understood as a consequence of aristocratic
see how the original word the Greek aristos used for themselves is
which comes from the verb
"to be," and means honest or truth-telling (but also someone who
and has presence). Aristocrats don't have the base character to tell themselves pretty lies, in this case, the lie that existence or mere life has any value. The tragic wisdom of Silenus--better never to have been born, and once born, to die as soon as possible--was a consequence of Greek aristocratic truth-telling; from any rational point of view, mere life is not worth it. And from this comes the contempt for the other lie, that labor, which is just a means to mere life, has dignity, or that human being as such has dignity or rights. Nietzsche explains this well,
Here is the attitude that Tacitus says the ancient Germans had about labor:
See also the ancient Greek "song of Hybrias":
European aristocracy had tremendous contempt for labor (and commerce), and its roots are probably directly traced to the attitude of the Germanic warrior society. It is a contempt for labor and commerce alike.
Implicit in the contempt for labor is that human life only has value insofar as it reaches for something beyond itself, as it is a tool for higher culture, or the cultivation of supreme specimens.
Life only has meaning as used in the service of genius. Only the absolute rule of genius is defensible.
There is a great scene in the third series of Blackadder in the episode "Nob and Nobility" where Blackadder meets the French Aristocrat "Le Count de Frou-Frou" who has been exiled to London due to the French Revolution. Blackadder sits with him and asks: "how would you like to earn some money?" The Count replies: "I would not. I would like other people to earn money and give it to me just like in the old days in France!" This topic reminds me of that scene.
With that in mind, I note this sentence from the post above:
This is a recipe for continuous barbarism unless it is balanced out with civilization. How then is it balanced?
And what of Cincinnatus who went back to toil in his fields?
This perfectly describes the Catholic and Orthodox of the Dalmatian highlands, Herzegovina, and Montenegro. I should post excerpts from Alberto Fortis' 18th century work
Viaggio in Dalmazia dell' Abate Alberto Fortis.
I think collecting rent from land your ancestors won by their blood and battle prowess is legitimate. It's the income from this land, which saves one from the labor for everyday life, that allows for higher pursuits and for higher culture and civilization itself. Without this, what you have are societies of neolithic millet-eating manlets like existed in Europe, living in their communal longhouses and having a faggot/transgendered mammy religion, before the Aryans came and crushed them under the chariot wheel and made them till the fields. And from that arises the leisure and grandeur necessary for high culture. Note that leisure is not enough...modern Europe and America prove this. You also need the grandeur and lust for fame that comes from a warrior mentality. Even that may not be enough...but it's necessary.
The higher pursuits may be something like Sparta, a continuation and perfection of the military life. No one would call Sparta uncivilized. But the Spartans themselves didn't work the land; each was apportioned land worked by helots, in an apartheid system. And they declared war on the helots every year. It's true that the arts and sciences didn't flourish at Sparta, but they bred supreme specimens and had a stable constitutional order for hundreds of years, so they were certainly civilized. However, Rome and Athens certainly did have a high culture, and that depended on slavery as well.
I can't comment directly on the Cincinnatus story, but Roman patricians didn't work the land themselves, though they did know about agriculture of course. Some concessions are necessary once settled life comes about; but I remind you that the Roman motto was "bellum et otium," war and leisure, which is so much like all the other things I've quoted. And "leisure" didn't mean sloth; that caricature of the French aristo you're talking about is typical republican propaganda. Talleyrand said that no one would know the true sweetness of life, who had not lived under the
The Christian motto is "ora et labora," prayer and labor. Which confirms what many have said, that the respect for labor in modern life comes from the Bible.
We see from your post that Sparta, Athens, and Rome had static class structures in which there was a division of responsibilities but unlike our modern times, the upper classes had strong collectivist bonds as opposed to the rabid individualism of our present system. Yet rigidity in class structure will often result in the corruption of the ruling classes and their degeneration and deterioration.
Thus leads us to conclude that the only remedy for this degeneration is their removal, which would have to be done through violence.
But this is a digression and I'd like to get back to the discussion of labour as a virtue/worthy of contempt.
There is no "Christian motto", this might surprise you, but things don't just become true by saying them as if they are. You're talking about monastics, whose real achievement is intellectual (theology), and who are not representative of the Church (the Body of Christ) which can only be understood holistically. Christianity and the Christian life encompass all classes and vocations, from landlords to soldiers to artists to peasants, etc. It is not a way of life.
Yes, among all Western nations, the French ideal of a life of leisure and pleasure-seeking probably corresponds closest to the Classical ideal of the "good life". This presents a good opportunity for me to shoehorn yet another copypaste from
Prussianism and Socialism
These characteristics of French culture distinguish the modern French attempt at "socialism"-- with its 75% tax rates, radical wealth re-distribution involving virtually no reciprocal duties from welfare recipients,
35 hour workweeks
, endemically high unemployment, and aggressive appropriation of business profits-- from the industrious and efficient socialism of Germany. Spengler characterized the French economic impulse as "anarchist" due to this provincial outlook with its hostility to property and business.
I also find it interesting that the other main place we have seen this anarchist tendency in Europe is Barcelona. Originally annexed by Napoleon, throughout the 20th and into the 21st century its political existence has been marked by a fiercely provincial stance vis a vis the central authorities Madrid, along with the disdain for industry and entrepreneurialism which it appears to share with France.
Now France is the global leader of tourism, and given its relatively small population, I suspect that per capita tourism revenue receipts of the French government dwarfs that of any other country. Were this not the case, the French economy in its current form would have almost certainly collapsed a while ago. And so France holds a somewhat unique position in the world economy in that their leisurely way of life is basically subsidized in large part by patrons around the globe.
Catalonia is Spain's wealthiest region and is home to its most dynamic businesses even if it has not possessed the natural wealth of the Asturias, in comparison. I don't know the source of the popularity of anarchism in Barcelona, but it along with Andalusia were the anarchist hotbeds of the late 19th and early 20th centuries even if Barcelona was industrious while Andalusia was rural and marked by