This Classic Account Of The Traditional Upper Class In America Traces Its Origins, Lifestyles, And Political And Social Attitudes From The Time Of Theodore Roosevelt To That Of John F Kennedy Sociologist E Digby Baltzell Describes The Problems Of Exclusion And Prejudice Within The Community Of White Anglo Saxon Protestants Or WASPs, An Acronym He Coined And Predicts With Amazing Accuracy What Will Happen When This Inbred Group Is Forced To Share Privilege And Power With Talented Members Of Minority Groups The Book May Actually Hold Interest Today Than When It Was First Published New Generations Of Readers Can Resonate All The To This Masterly And Beautifully Written Work That Provides Sociological Understanding Of Its Engrossing Subject Robert K Merton, Columbia University The Documentation And Illustration In The Book Make It Valuable As Social History, Quite Apart From Any Theoretical Hypothesis As Such, It Sketches The Rise Of The WASP Penchant For Country Clubs, Patriotic Societies And Genealogy It Traces The History Of Anti Semitism In America It Describes The Intellectual Conflict Between Social Darwinism And The Environmental Social Science Founded Half A Century Ago By Men Like John Dewey, Charles A Beard, Thorstein Veblen, Franz Boas And Frederick Jackson Turner In Short, The Protestant Establishment Is A Wide Ranging, Intelligent And Provocative Book Alvin Toffler, New York Times Book Review The Protestant Establishment Has Many Virtues That Lift It Above The Level We Have Come To Expect In Works Of Contemporary Social And Cultural Analysis It Is Clearly And Convincingly Written H Stuart Hughes, New York Review Of Books What Makes Baltzell S Analysis Of The Evolution Of The American Elite Superior To The Accounts Of Earlier Writers Is That He Exposes The Connections Between High Social Status And Political And Economic Power Dennis H Wrong, Commentary A weaker book than I had hoped Baltzell hinges his argument on a a thin Tocqueville quotation, claiming that a society s elite must be meritocratic, and open to all men of talent Fine and good, but his subsequent discussion does little to expand on this, leaning heavily on anecdote and with what seems to me an sociologically inappropriate emphasis on the Jews, whose relationship to the WASP elite in America is fairly atypical I don t think his argument is incorrect, exactly, and a few years ago just seeing it laid out would have been very attractive to me, but these days I think the world is complicated, and requires complicated analysis.Despite being, like myself, an elitist, I find him a little too naive when discussing the political programs of liberals like FDR and JFK, who were, I think, concerned with getting elected than these enlightened issues of societal stability Baltzell doesn t seem to realize what many of the patrician racists already knew a meritocratic elite will not be any representative of American society than a caste elite Today, as Pat Buchanan will tell you, Jews and Asians combined, despite composing less than 10% of the American population, make up about half of Harvard s undergraduate students The long term consequences of the decline of the WASP elite if we have to use such an ugly and vague acronym are not considered, although there is some good history which helped make clear to me the broad reaction against minority power and influence that began in the late 1800s and lasted, with slight interruptions, until FDR turned the Democratic party into the establishment party.I have higher hopes for his Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia, which the NYPL seems to have misplaced. This is a ground breaking work on the rise and fall of the Protestant elites in the USA Baltzell, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennyslvania, was himself a member of an old Philadelphian Episcopalian family, and defended the need for an aristocracy in a democracy.Baltzell was alarmed by the descent of the White Anglo Saxon Protestant , or WASP a term he popularized but did not invent , from an elite into a closed caste The WASP establishment would not allow achieving Jews, Catholics, or blacks into its ranks, thus dooming itself to decline.Baltzell never mentions the Italian writer Vilfredo Pareto or the latter s theory of the Circulation of the Elites by name but reaches a similar conclusion elites that are not open to newcomers of talent are doomed.I originally read this book in 1982 when I was 21 and understand it better now. I first read this book in 1968 it was written in 1964 for a poli sci course It never left me I would return to it periodically over the years as our country evolved, change, morphed into the future And now, as in the past, became reactionary America was founded by a basis of ideas and ideals that became the very constitution of our country, insuring equality for all In the course of over 200 years, we have reverted to racism, antisemitism and hatred several times, never really being equal, but often than not, being hateful It appears America is experiencing a reactionary period again Though this book may appear dated in spots, it really has managed to show that The things change, the they stay the same..or worse This is truly an admirable read.
Edward Digby Baltzell was an American sociologist, academic and author He became an Emeritus Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, and was credited with popularizing the acronym WASP Wikipedia
- 448 pages
- The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America
- Edward Digby Baltzell
- 10 April 2019 Edward Digby Baltzell