Levelling Down

As I was in the cafeteria at Mondoville today, I was chatting with the Angel’s’ Legal Aid (as I serve the role of Devil’s Advocate, so…), and the topic of egalitarianism somehow crept into the conversation, which reminded me of the famous anecdote from the Life of Johnson:

Sir, there is one Mrs. Macaulay* in this town, a great republican. One day when I was at her house, I put on a very grave countenance, and said to her, “Madam, I am now become a convert to your way of thinking. I am convinced that all mankind are upon an equal footing; and to give you an unquestionable proof, Madam, that I am in earnest, here is a very sensible, civil, well-behaved fellow-citizen, your footman; I desire that he may be allowed to sit down and dine with us.” I thus, Sir, shewed her the absurdity of the levelling doctrine. She has never liked me since. Sir, your levellers wish to level DOWN as far as themselves; but they cannot bear levelling UP to themselves.

This anecdote may be seen in lots of class envy arguments, but I was also reminded of it this afternoon when I read a blog post from David McElroy that exposes an elite northeastern college’s Macaulayan tendencies. Check it out.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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1 Response to Levelling Down

  1. Nick, Angels' Defense Attorney says:

    “all Republicans ancient and modern … suggest no Other schemes but those of pulling down and leveling all Distinctions above them, and of tyrannizing over those Miserable beings, who are unfortunately placed below them.”

    And again, “he that is a Tyrant over his inferiors is, of Course, a Patriot, and a leveler in respect to his Superiors.”
    –Josiah Tucker on Mr. Locke and his American imitators

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