Many years ago, David Brooks raised the question: ‘will we create a new hereditary elite in America, that is more meritocratic?’
The American hereditary elite fell apart because the post war period saw top management and control of American corporations passed on to the meritocratic superiors generated and made visible by WWII.
The closed school system in the Ivy leagues that had been largely restricted to the heirs of the elite fed their graduates into private clubs and ultimately ownership of major corporations. Only the offspring of the nouveaux very rich could enter this Ivy league ladder. Only white Protestants were admitted. Clubs, neighborhoods, parties and a social register helped this group know its members. As it still does in most of the world.
David Brooks lives in New York and is alarmed to see the same elite school ladder being erected on the basis of money. Rich wives get their kids into very expensive exclusive school and shower them with private tutors and specialized summer camps. Brooks also sees the traditional use of big portfolios to get offspring jobs at investment firms and a whole new array of private expensive neighborhoods (penthouses, jets) and club-like gatherings.
I don’t think so.
DNA still operates. The children of a female law professor and a hedge fund manager are still an ordinary cross section of Americans. The best tutoring and schools can only do ‘so much’.
The predator world will still go after the offspring of the rich. Beautiful seductive woman, social climbers and con artists.
But most importantly, the world of commerce is now firmly committed to meritocratic top management. An heir to money will make unforgivable mistakes in corporate management that will be unacceptable. Example: the Ford, Rockefeller and Motorola heirs.
America will never again have a powerful entrenched hereditary elite.