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Vulgarity & Egalitarianism – II

We Must Admire Superior Patterns of Living

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
In addition to hatred for what is noble and sublime, which we analyzed in the previous article, there is another characteristic of the egalitarian spirit. It is a tendency to vulgarity expressed more or less in this way: “Anything that is different from my family customs and patterns of living is over-luxurious and foolish.” So, the habits of the particular individual would be the pattern of human life.

Simple foods

Although fried chicken, roasted beef and bread with sausage are good foods, they are not the top of the line

This is a phenomenon that can be noticed in every social class. I know a lady who is very wealthy but a bit hillbilly who says: “European gourmet food? Oh, no! Good simple food is what I had when I was a girl living with my parents on our farm in the country. Nothing is better than a good fried chicken with gravy along with …” and then she names other familiar Brazilian side dishes. Since she was raised eating chicken and enjoying it, she believes that the best thing to eat is those fried chickens. It is the height of cuisine for her and thus establishes the model pattern for the entire world.

A person raised in a different ambience says: “For me the best food is a beef flank stuffed with carrots and baked for hours in the oven. Serve it with vegetables and you have the best meal anyone can find!” Again, common fare is the zenith, without any possibility of admitting a superior pattern.

Another person from a lower social stratum has a different standard. He says: “Roasted chicken with gravy and side dishes? Ridiculous! When I want to eat well, I take a piece of thick black bread, put a sausage in it, and there you have it. It’s easy, healthy and cheap. Nothing is better!”

Each one of us is inclined to have an aversion toward a pattern of life superior to our own. We say: “What is good enough for me is sufficient. If someone else thinks that my tastes are not high enough, then who does he think he is? That he is more than I am?” The innuendo here is that the other man is proud because he has higher patterns.

Another attitude the egalitarian man takes is to believe the man is a fool because he has superior tastes: “He was tricked by the propaganda and duped into thinking that paté is better than onions! I’d rather have bread spread with a layer of fried onions than with butter and paté.”

When someone tells him that paté is a refined food, he becomes irritated and replies: “It certainly is not! What’s good is a hearty food that you eat until you are full, so full you don’t need to eat the rest of the day. This talk of a dab of paté on top of a little toast is for sissy men, for idiots!”

Refined food

Refined food includes, from the top: Fois gras, canapés, escargots & a variety of seafood

I remember that when I was a young man I went to spend some days on a farm in an area where the soil is red and dry, thus raising a lot of dust that would settle everywhere, even entering your clothes. In addition to the nearby bathroom, the dining room also had a sink where one could wash his hands and face before meals.

When I went to wash up, I was in the middle of the task when the towel fell from my hands to the floor and became semi-red from the dust. I said: “What a bother, I have to ask for another towel.” Four other young men who were in the room laughed loudly. I did not like this and asked them why they were laughing.

Trying to avoid a clash, they replied: “Well, we are used to this dust. We really cannot figure out why it matters to you to wash your face now since, shortly after the meal when you go outdoors, you will be dirty again from the dust? We understand your reaction because you are coming from São Paulo and you were very well raised.”

So, they rationalized that it was superfluous for a man to wash one’s hands and face before eating since he would only get dirty again later and that only persons who were “very well raised” would bother to do this. They were accustomed to eat with dirty hands and thought that it was perfectly fine.

The examples I am giving illustrate a common error that is part of the revolutionary mentality. It is to naturally assume that one’s pattern of life is as good as it should be and does not need any improvement. Anyone who tries to point out a superior pattern is considered an enemy. This is attitude characterizes a certain state of spirit: the egalitarian spirit.

What we should keep in mind is that there are demands of refinement and good taste that we do not understand, not because they are caprices of the proud, foolish or effeminate men, but because they are superior to us. When we hurl these epithets at others, it is because we are revolting against superiority, against hierarchy in society. At depth, we are revolting against God who made everything in a hierarchical order.

Thus, we should take a position of humility, accept that our own social pattern is not the apex, and try to understand and admire those patterns that are more than ours. This, and only this, is a counter-revolutionary position of spirit. So, I encourage you to look for those reflections of God in all classes of society and all levels of creation, try to understand them and admire them.

Having established this conclusion let me clarify a point: When I spoke above about the man who may like this or that hearty food, I was not criticizing the food in itself. I myself am an admirer of many of these rude foods and am delighted to taste them once in a while. My criticism is for the mentality that considers them as the height of the pattern and the person who closes his spirit to superior ones. We should admire the good that comes from all the social levels, not just our own.

I close with another disclaimer. I am defending the authentically refined person, not the artificially sophisticated pedant. Some persons try to be refined and are not; they acquire a few cultivated mannerisms and imagine they are refined. In fact, they are only trying to appear to be more than what they are. This is not what I am encouraging you to do. Be yourselves, but be open to the values of other social levels, without pretending to become a member of those higher classes.


Posted May 11, 2015

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