A theory or a satire? Are the ruling class a bunch of Barbarians? (A term that Matthew Arnold used as well, for the Aristocracy, while terming the shopkeeping class the Philistines, and the working classes the Populace.) Jane Jacobs may have been closer to our modern predicament. She contrasted the values of warriors (the old Barbarian/Aristrocrat class) with the values of business people (Arnold's Philistines.) She warned that when Philistines, whose values revolve around getting and owning are put in charge, they will lack honor. They will pilfer from within, and get all they can, while covering it with high sounding phrases. The problem with America may be, as Arnold noted, on contrasting us to England:
Our society distributes itself into Barbarians, Philistines and Populace; and America is just ourselves with the Barbarians quite left out, and the Populace nearly.
A figure like Lewis Lapham, or Tracy Gary, or a Jay Hughes, or a Nelson Aldrich or a W.S. Trow reminds us of what the English Aristocratic ideal was when conveyed to America and nurtured in Boarding Schools and the Ivies. Not all bad. A heck of a lot better than our Philistine class in charge today, in both parties, in all walks of life, Red/Blue, Religious or Secular, Educated or Foxed. We are indeed the Ownership Society, the Philistine's ideal. Stewardship, moral heroism, sacrifice - so antique. We can't even say, "philanthropy," we have to say, "social investment" just to prove we are good Philistines even in our giving. I became a Fool when the Philistine became my Boss as a way to hold out for the high old ideals of my former Master, a proper King. I would encourage Lapham to do the same. He takes himself much too seriously as a Morals Tutor to the Philistine Elite. No dignity for us, Lewis. Get a pig's bladder and tie it to the end of a stick. You may not live in Dumpster, but there is where you will find the proud tradition of which we are a part.