Portal Site for Russellian in Japan
[From: Mortals and Others, v.1, 1975.］
２世議員の増加や、政治的・経済的あるいは社会的に成功すると、次は閨閥によって箔をつけたがる権力エリートたちによくみられる俗物根性（家柄崇拝は俗物根性としばしば同居）。日本でも家柄崇拝流行の兆し？ 少しずつ貧富の差が拡大？ 天皇「制」の意味合い、人間を序列化する叙位叙勲制度(天皇が最高勲位、国民の大部分は無冠)・・・。英国屈指の名門に生まれたラッセル「伯爵」ゆえに、より説得力を持つ発言(イギリス国王)を筆頭とする「家柄崇拝」批判)(2001.12.28)
Of the bad qualities of my own country one of the chief is snobbery. Not that snobbery is confined to England : it is almost more in evidence in the self-governing Dominions and is by no means unknown in America. In the first days of the United States, the leaders of society tried hard to establish hereditary titles in imitation of the British practice but were fortunately defeated by the democratic forces under the leadership of Jefferson. To this day, not a few Americans display a surprising interest in titles. Of this I can speak from experience. Having always held the view that hereditary distinctions are a mistake, I have done all in my power to prevent all mention of such distinctions in my own case. But not infrequently I have encountered a considerable reluctance in this respect, and sometimes hostesses beseech me to allow myself to be introduced by my title.
The reasons for this are not wholly bad. Variety is amusing and picturesque. I derive pleasure myself from visits of Buddhist dignitaries and Sufi literati. I like to meet Italians who have names known to me from Renaissance history. The line between these feelings and those that constitute snobbery is a very narrow one, and yet I cannot feel that there is any harm in them. Insofar as pleasure in titles is of this sort it is innocent.
Snobbery becomes a serious evil when it leads to false standards of value and to tolerance of social inequality. The man who is respected merely for being the son of his father loses one of the normal incentives to useful effort. He is likely to develop views of life which attach undue importance to the accident of birth and to think that by merely existing he does enough to command respect. He believes himself rather better than other men and therefore becomes rather worse. All distinctions not based upon intrinsic merit have this bad effect upon character and on this ground, if on no other, deserve to be abolished.
But the effect upon the man or woman who admires titles without possessing them is worse because the class concerned is a larger one. Admiration of the kind of merit which is acquired by the exertions of its possessor is useful since it encourages men to do their best. But there is nothing admirable in being the son of one's father, whoever he may have been. Even in America, many people will listen with respect to the opinions of a fool or a charlatan if he happens to be socially distinguished, while a poor man without social culture has to be immensely intelligent in order to make himself felt. All this is foolish and helps to give currency to foolish ideas.
The greatest field for snobbery is the Monarchy, which succeeds in doing more harm than most English people suppose. Few people can bring themselves to treat the opinions of a monarch with no more respect than they would show to those of a common mortal, and yet the education and surroundings of royalty are hardly such as to promote intelligence. In England, while the King has no power to dictate policy, he has the right to have it explained to him by the Prime Minister and to express his opinion of it privately to the Prime Minister. A democratic politician is very likely to be overawed by the unaccustomed pomp and to be led, almost unconsciously, into a deference for royal judgements, which is not likely to be advantageous to the public.
All this trouble arises from the practice of paying deference to a man for reasons which do not imply any superior abilities on his part. This practice is therefore regrettable, and the United States is fortunate in being officially free from it. Socially, it exists in America as elsewhere, but fortunately the socially prominent are not necessarily possessed of much influence upon public affairs. If they were, America might soon become as snob-ridden as Great Britain.