The Modern World hates those who are content in lowly stations. The servant who is happy to serve is considered insane. The man who keeps his head out of political affairs is taught that he is misguided and needs to take charge of his own destiny. The housewife is derided as being either too stupid or too foolish to work on some higher pursuit. As much as the Modern paradigm claims to be for and by the Common Man, it is so only on the condition that this Man put away his Commonness, and quickly, in order to take his place amongst the elite. We see this truth being preached, albeit stealthily, wherever democracy is. Popular culture, modern education, and even contemporary political philosophy all show this, and, indeed, typically take pride in it.
This attitude of total derision for a lower-class life is often contrasted with the Traditional view of things by those who hold it. Modernists love little more than to expound upon the fact that in prior times, the average person was hopelessly condemned to the life of a farmer, tradesman, monk, or wife, with only the most minuscule hope of moving to a different station. The people of bygone ages, we are told, had no political influence, very little ability to acquire an education, only the slightest chance of becoming wealthy, a frightening lack of autonomy, and so on; and were, in short, treated little better than beasts. But now, it is joyously claimed, the average person is infinitely better off. Everyone is given equal influence in the government, anyone can at any time attend a college or change their career in order to follow their dreams, modern economics allow anyone with the proper drive to become a millionaire, et cetera. All told, the story goes, there is no good reason to take a low station. The Modern World has done its best to allow anyone to reach any position in society, and people in higher positions have more of an impact on the world, more material success, and more great accomplishments, so why would someone not do his utmost to rise as high as possible?
Why would someone keep his head out of politics when he could be doing is part to right the wrongs of the world? Why would a woman content herself with being a housewife when she could be accomplishing the goods of a doctor or a civic engineer instead? Why should I take it easy when the prestige, money, and authority of the next promotion are within reach? These questions tear at the minds of Modernists, and the fact that people often stay in lowly places when an Enlightened worldview can find no good reason for it brings them great distress. Thus, the leaders of the Enlightened world pour vast amounts of energy into rectifying said fact. Wellfare programs spring up in an effort to give the poor the tools to rise that they have been so cruelly deprived of. Massive amounts of birth control supplies are sent to the 3rd world, so that the women there can be freed of any and all bonds keeping them from pursuing the success so common in the West. Even the eugenics movements of the 20th century began as proposed solutions to this problem, created when a few people came to the simple conclusion that the only rational explanation was that the lower classes were inferior, and must be eliminated for humanity to progress. The contemporary forces of the Enlightenment do everything they can, and have been doing everything they can for a long time, to make the existence of low stations in society obsolete. And yet, people still inhabit these stations, some even still cling to them, and some bold Traditionalists even go so far as to defend this fact and say that it is a good thing. This utterly baffles Modernism, and forces it to conclude that something must be direly wrong, for why else would such a problem survive when under such assault?
But this confusion, and indeed, the entire attitude from which it springs, is something that must be entirely rejected by all supporters of a sane, Traditional civilization. It is a gross misunderstanding of the nature of the world that only someone trapped by the darkest claws of materialism would ever conceive of. Someone with a proper understanding would not ask, “why are there still people in the lowest stations of society?” but would rather inquire, “why shouldn't there be?” After all, is happiness contingent upon material success? Is a vote the only possible method of exercising civic virtue? Have all the great Saints been wealthy statesmen? Quite to the contrary on all counts, so what does it matter that some are rich and some are poor? What does it matter that some men work like dogs to make their living? There is joy in hard work, and many people have derived great spiritual satisfaction from it. Why should we worry so much that a man chooses not to think about politics? Is it not far better for him to devote that energy to caring for his wife and children? And besides all that, there is the cornerstone belief of Tradition that there are many sorts of people for many sorts of things. It is true that there are many people who could do immense good and derive great satisfaction from a position of political power, but there are also many other people who would be so overwhelmed by their responsibilities that they would be unable to do anything. There may be women who would be at their best as doctors, scholars, and artists, but there are also others whose greatest joy and strength is maintaining a household. All told, it is more than enough to say that the Enlightenment's position on the matter is simply foolish. Lowliness alone has no intrinsic effect on the quality of one's life, so there is just no reason to care either way.
As a matter of fact, what is truly baffling is the Modernist sentiment on the matter. From a Traditional standpoint, it is nearly impossible to see where they got their intent focus on eliminating political class structures in the first place. It is only by a careful analysis of the Enlightenment itself that the origin of the concern becomes clear.
The stated goal of the Enlightenment thinkers was to be entirely and in every way rational. Unlike the supposedly superstitious and ignorant folk of bygone days, they were going to apply pure analytical reason to every problem, and use the same engine that gave birth to their modern technology and global empires to discover the final truths and most perfect practical applications of every field of thought. Anything that they could not dissect, calculate, engineer, or otherwise analyze was put to the Guillotine, and replaced with something more, “rational.” Ultimately, they hoped and claimed, this would create a utopia, as they successively studied, understood, and did away with every source of human misery, and constantly created greater and greater sources of prosperity and happiness.
And, if the world was the way that the Enlightenment believed it to be, perhaps this would have worked. Perhaps their ideology was so successful because people saw that if their basic assumptions were true, they really would create a utopia. The problem is that the creators of the Enlightenment did not realize (or did not care) that by concentrating so exclusively on the material, the measurable, and the rational, they blinded themselves to all things spiritual, intangible, and emotional. To an Enlightened mind, if it cannot be put in a lab or mathematically proven, it does not exist, even should it be a brute fact such as virtue, joy, or God. This is the attitude that caused them to formulate the metric system, and also such foolish things as the proposed ten-hour division of the day. The idea that an holistic, organically-developed system such as the Gregorian calendar could have any merit in comparison to a carefully-calculated, “rational” replacement was not just challenged by the Enlightenment, it was mocked and declared the height of stupidity due to nothing more than the underlying assumptions of their philosophy. Ironic as it may seem, the Enlightened mindset actually demands that any concept which is not materialistic and modern be thrown out without any rational analysis. Modern thinking simply cannot cope with anything that is not physically quantifiable, as is self-evident from even a passing consideration of contemporary politics and culture. This limitation forces Modernist thinkers to look at everything as if it were some sort of machine, which they only judge by the output B it will create if given the input A. Duty, happiness, spiritual growth, love, and dozens of other critically important concepts besides simply have no place in the Modern paradigm. They are not material, so they are ignored.
Realizing all this makes it easy to see the reason that modern thought hates everything about the lower classes. A wealthy and industrious banker can generate millions of dollars of revenue, provide the funding for dozens of productive businesses, and insinuate himself into the echelons of government, all while still having a family and attending church weekly. Therefore, to an purely post-Enlightenment analysis of things, he is not just more financially successful than a blue-collar working father, but is actively better than him in a way that is very nearly moral. It does not matter how crippled his spirituality is, how little he sees his own children, or how much stress his work puts him under; he has a greater material effect on the world, so, rationally speaking, he is simply greater. And what could be more despicable to our contemporary materialist spirit than a domestic mother? A stay-at-home wife and mother is, at least in the popular view, an active material drain on the world, who produces no truly usable goods or services at all. She is therefore subject to the most vicious of attacks and insults, being characterized as a lazy parasite and a useless hanger-on to everyone around her. The vast and comprehensive benefits she produces in every non-material sphere are meanwhile invisible to her attackers, no matter how strongly they affect the world.
So we see, in a humorous twist, that Traditionalism is, in fact, more rational than Rationalism. It is self-evident that there is more to the world and to life than material output and influence, and any society that does not realize this is doomed to suffer as society suffers today, with its populace in the grip of nihilism and depression, and the leaders of its culture and thought incoherent and useless. If we want to make a better world, a happier world, a more sane world, the first step is to reject materialism, and one of the first effects of that rejection is the realization that simplicity and lowliness can be good, and sometimes our aspirations should be low.