Observations about George

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Hi, everyone.

I followed the thread about George Haverstrom very closely during the last few weeks, and I was very interested in everything everyone (including George) had to say. I am an economist (by trade) and a sociologist (by hobby), and I know a lot about the aptly-named "aristocracy."

First, George was wrong about their numbers (you can't expect him to know everything): there are actually about 15,000 of them, from about 150 families up and down the east coast, from Boston to Norfolk, including big-name families (Cabot-Lodge, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Getty, Astor, etc.) and less well-known families (Haverstrom, Jameson, Good-Keller, etc.). They are descended from merchants, nobility, monopolists, industrialists, and (as Gilded Age Junkie said) are "old money" - REALLY old money.

I will admit that, to many, they might sound like some sort of "cult", or "backwards group". But, they are an aristocracy - this is true. They run the country, and (as Jonathan the valet said) involve themselves in everything about national daily life. Al Gore is one of them (the Gore family, as in Gore Vidal, etc, although their family is in the lowest part of it, and isn't really respected).

I noticed that big argument with George was over "propriety," which is the one most representative thing about their class: they all follow it (as George said) "to the letter." Now, I'm not sure this is such a bad thing. In some ways, I envy them; in others, I don't. They'll never encounter real unhappiness, and they'll always live in (as Jonathan the valet said) a world of beauty and splendor. But, they are somewhat limited by propriety. Although, because I, too, am a "Gilded Age Junkie", I'd sort of like to live like the people back in George's favorite Edwardian age did.

Yes, some of George's opinions may seem archaic, old-fashioned, or even prejudiced, but I'm absolutely sure (having had experience observing the aristocracy - at the NY Metropolitan Opera Opening Gala and elsewhere) that he didn't mean to be nasty or offensive to anyone. Actually, George seemed like a perfectly nice person - I just don't think everyone else in the discussion tried to see him in the best light. It seemed to me that some people were even biased (though I don't know why).

The aristocracy is a very real class, they are very powerful, and I don't think they're so awful (especially George - remember that he's only a 17 year-old boy, with lots of ideas and opinions). I can't wait to hear your responses.

Rosalind Watson

PS: I went to the opera gala because it's probably the best place in the country to observe the true upper class - every part of it. It cost a pretty penny, though.

-- Rosalind Watson (foo@bar.com), September 08, 1998


Rosalind, I appreciate your opinions and facts in your posting. I am probably one of those you thought to be biased against George, and that would be absolutely correct. If you've followed the threads, you'll find I kept my mouth shut for quite a bit of time, simply because George and I had met an a previous site and had already gone round and round about his prejudices and I didn't wish to do so again. The things about George is that he doesn't MEAN to be cruel, or racist, or sexist...he just IS. He was raised that way, and raised to believe that it is the correct way of thinking. One can't debate reasonably with him because it never occurrs to him that the thoughts planted into his brain from birth just MY BE wrong. I don't wish to necessarily change his opinions, but JUST ONCE, it would've been nice to hear him say, "I may not agree, BUT I SEE YOUR POINT." That's all. I have no respect for someone who can't agree to disagree, for someone who thinks that because I have a differing opinion, I am simply wrong and that's all. Aristocracy or not...I don't care if your a garbage man!

By the way, I am not arguing with your knowledge of sociology or anything, but George would probably take issue with your claim that the aristocracy numbers around 15,000. He would consider people like Al Gore bourgeosie (sp?) rather than aristocracy. Just an observation on my part (believe me...he and I have talked at length about all this on another site and via email).

-- Gilded Age Junkie (GildedAgeJunkie@yahoo.com), September 08, 1998.

Also...sorry about my awful spelling in that post.

-- Gilded Age Junkie (GildedAgeJunkie@yahoo.com), September 08, 1998.

Welcome to "The Shack", Rosalind. I don't think you've been here before, have you? Interesting that you show up now, having just missed George's departure. Too bad, since studying the "aristocracy" is a hobby to the extent that you would go to the opera just to view them, and maybe overhear a few words of their conversations. And for the last two weeks you could have talked directly to Mr. Haverstrom yourself! Hmmm.....

-- D "The skeptic" D (foo@bar.com), September 08, 1998.


I don't know. I didn't find him cruel... I've never found people like him really cruel, per se. Yes, you're right: he wouldn't accept your opinions about propriety, but I don't really blame him. He's trying to protect everything he's ever been taught and everything he knows. We all do this at one time or another, I think. Though, I see what you mean by him not saying, "I may not agree, but I see your point." But didn't he agree to disagree with Emma about women voting and women's roles (my job would probably be improper in they eyes of the Aristocracy).

I don't completely agree with George's definition of the "Aristocracy". Basically, it just means "really old money", although their higher circles are those like George's: the people who live like nothing's changed within the last 100 years, and live like people did 100 years ago. It's people like him that interest me the most.

I don't mind your spelling.

D "the skeptic" D,

I've been here for a long time. I've just never written anything... I've been reading posts here for about three months. I loved "Titanic". What are you skeptical about? You can check the logs to see if I'm someone else.

I followed George's arguments, but I didn't want to contribute. Because I love sociology, I like observing class-relations (the key word here is OBSERVE - I study, and I don't get involved). I didn't want to talk to George... I wanted to observe his relations with other classes. I like opera, anyway, but I got lower-end tickets to the gala (the aristocracy buys the $2200 gala dinner tickets - I bought the ones for observers and the press). What are you implying about me? You don't even know me.

Rosalind Watson

-- Rosalind Watson (foo@bar.com), September 09, 1998.

You go, Rosalind. That Dalton needs his butt kicked ccasionally. Just kidding, Dalton. I love you all!

-- BobG (rgregorio@ibm.net), September 09, 1998.

Hi Rosalind,

I must say, you've put forward an excellent entry. I never thought I'd say this after the "voting" fiasco, but I've been emailing George privately and he really is a sweetie (please don't hurt me). He is unfailingly polite and we have "agreed to disagree" with regard to women and voting, to each his own.

-- Emma (dilemma76@hotmail.com), September 09, 1998.

Hello Rosalind,

No doubt, you probably considered my entries to be biased, also. I didn't find George to be cruel, per se. I simply thought his arguments were immature. There is no doubt in my mind that he firmly believes in what he stands for, and my hats off to him for doing the best he could to stand behind his beliefs. All I asked from him was some kind of evidence to back up what he was saying. He stated that propriety leads to the best life. It only follows that those who do not follow propriety as closely as he and his family have less fulfilling lives, or "worse" lives. I disagree with that. I do not follow propriety to the letter, because I believe in the woman's movement, which I gather is impropriety. I disagreed with his statement that propriety leading to the best life was a fact, when it is an opinion. I consider my life to be very fulfilling, and I have no desire to have the social life that would automatically come with the aristocracy and propriety. I appreciate my right to vote, work, use the internet, and the many other things propriety would not permit.

As far as never encountering real unhappiness, I don't think that is such a good thing. How else do you learn to appreciate something than when it is gone? You may be a happy person in the aristocracy, but how do you really know you are, if you have never experienced unhappiness?

I have my opinions, and I know that George has his. I still think it would be in his best interests to take some kind of critical thinking class. At least then, he may understand better why everyone else is questioning his life, even if he doesn't.

-- Misty Chacon (HiRver@concentric.net), September 09, 1998.


You've observed George so closely that you've adopted his writing style, manner of addressing all respondents individually and in turn, and even the format of his postings. You've been "observing" here for months, but only now thought of something to add. My guess is that George will be the only topic you write about, and only on this thread. And you will always be polite and proper in response, even to this post. (I'm baiting you.) Hmmm......

Dan Dalton

-- Dalton (fu@bar.com), September 09, 1998.

I apologize for cluttering this forum with my cynicism. This will be my last post on any thread about George. I'll leave you all to your delusions.

-- Dalton (sna@fu.com), September 10, 1998.

Hi, Emma. :^)

I don't care if you like George or not. I just decided to post some facts about people like him. I'm sure he is nice. Most aristocrats are nice, so I don't blame you. You're right: agreeing to disagree is beneficial, especially with people like him.

Hi, Misty.

I had to go back and read some of your comments. You're mostly right. You have to remember that he's just a 17-year old. But, he is a good example of what aristocrats are like. If you put his propriety under that much scrutiny, he isn't able to defend it well. I agree with you. If I had to follow their propriety, I wouldn't have my job, vote, or use the Internet either. Added to that, I'm of mixed-race (I don't know his position on this), so I'm sure there's a lot of things I couldn't do.

Hi, Dan Dalton.

What are you implying about me? That I'm some sort of advocate for George or the aristocrats? Really, Dan, my grammar isn't as good as his or theirs. If you want me to be impolite, I can, but I really don't see why I should. If you want me to leave, I will.

Are you implying that I'm George? LOL! If that's it, then it's one of the funniest things I've ever heard. I couldn't ever be someone like him, or even someone close. I'm female, I'm part-Black, and I'm not upper-class. Think more before you say things like that.

Rosalind Watson

-- Rosalind Watson (foo@bar.com), September 10, 1998.

Hi Rosalind!

I wasn't trying to put so much pressure on George. I finally came to the conclusion that his beliefs on propriety are like mine on religion. I am Baptist. I believe in God, and I think everyone should believe in God, even though I have no scientific evidence to back me up. I simply take it all on faith and trust, which is what George does with propriety. I do still wish he could articulate his beliefs and reasons for them a little better.

I am in an interracial marriage, so I probably don't rank to high up with the aristocracy either!


-- Misty Chacon (HiRver@concentric.net), September 10, 1998.

Woah! Somebody get me the Official Preppy Handbook!

-- Jimmy Mason (foo@bar.com), January 06, 2000.

"Preppies inherit from Mummy and Daddy, in addition to loopy handwriting and old furniture, the legacy of Proper Breeding. Preppies soon learn that any deviation from the prescribed style of life is bound to bring disaster. Attending a declassee school, marrying wrong, selecting uncharted neighborhoods, choosing demanding vocations, or simply taking up bowling can unravel the tightly woven social fabric that binds the comfortable Preppy community."

Lisa Birnbach "The Official Preppy Handbook"

"Because Mummy and Daddy instruct their children in all matters of Taste and Tact, Preppies don't really have to worry about going astray. When the time comes, the children will know what to write on a Prep school application essay, who to marry, and how to ensure serenity and security for THEIR children by putting their tooth-fairy dollars in a money market fund. Like everything else, Preppiness begins in the home."

Lisa Birnbach "The Official Preppy Handbook"

-- Mr. B.B.Q. (foo@bar.com), January 16, 2000.

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