Robert Skidelsky on aristocratic self-confidence

What distinguishes the aristocracy and gentry from the bourgeoisie in this new world of Evangelical piety and middle-class utilitarianism is nothing more than a nuance, a subterranean tradition hard to pin down. It is perhaps best expressed in the phrase high spirits: the lingering tradition of the dandy, of sowing one’s wild oats’, of practical joking, of conspicuous display, of eccentricity, of idiosyncratic speech; all perhaps products of the self-confidence alone possessed by those born at the apex of an unchallenged social pyramid, who instinctively feel that anything they do must be justified.

Eric Bentley’s comment on Nietzsche’s Zarathustra is apposite: The old aristocratic modes of feeling are to be grafted onto the thought of a new evolutionary futurism.”

Quote robert skidelsky aristocracy normative ethics nietzsche zarathustra futurism