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57: PEG on the French Aristocracy's Selective Breeding Program

57: PEG on the French Aristocracy's Selective Breeding Program

Les rallyes d'apprentissage - La Grande Bourgeoisie

In this episode, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry discusses the rallye mondain, a network of parties and dinners that emerged among the French aristocracy in the 1950s, to confront the collapse of arranged marriage.

It’s relatively simple: mothers and other relatives monitor their children’s social circles, determine which boys and girls should be connected, and then organize social occasions to make it happen. Invitations are extended privately, and the events have no online presence.

Parents spread information about their local rallye by word of mouth: the types of events they organize, the standards of eligibility, the ideological or aesthetic bent of the families involved.

The idea that adults should take an active role in crafting their children’s social opportunities isn’t exactly revolutionary, but the received wisdom in the West is that this is an impossible task for parents to execute competently.

Most parents take for granted that whatever they place in front of their children will backfire spectacularly and drive them to the opposite extreme out of sheer embarrassment.

Which is not a totally unfounded concern: unlike you or I, a cooperative of French aristocratic families can afford to make aesthetic investments, and controls access to an undeniably high-class milieu — but apparently

himself still declined his invitation to the rallye as a young man.

Another point of difficulty for the rallye is agreeing on how selective to be, and along which axes: some of the families are bluntly concerned with aristocratic lineage; others are gated by income, or aesthetics. Some are elaborate, multi-stage events of training and acculturation; others are just dance parties for rich kids.

We relate this to BAP’s thesis (reviewed below) which describes the necessity of existential pressure to force a shared understanding of what constitutes excellence and competence.

Once an aristocratic society is liberated from those constraints, individuals and groups fly apart in all directions toward varied definitions of excellence, undisciplined by external reality — and some minority of those trajectories lead somewhere of lasting value — which is his explanation for the phenomenon of “high culture”.

From this perspective, the rallye would be the effort of an aristocracy very late in its decline: near exhaustion, groping in a dozen directions, and without the power to generate the life-or-death competitive pressure necessary to ruthlessly demand excellence from the individual or the group.

On the whole, it looks like an unusually successful rear-guard action from an elite that is in decline, but still a going concern, with elite privileges to bestow. It’s not obvious that such a program is practicable among ordinary cubicle-dwelling parents who can’t offer their children the same enticements.

Until recently, BYU offered a more middle-class selective breeding package.

The university did the hard work of selecting the top Latter-day Saint talent from all over the world and dropping them into a PG-13 meat market with other upwardly-mobile, spiritually-aligned Hot Young Singles In Your Area.

Young Latter-day Saints with genuine elite potential would often do their undergrad at BYU instead of the Ivy League for several reasons:

  • No student debt (BYU tuition is going up, but it’s still one-third to one-tenth the cost of its nearest-ranked competitors)

  • If you don’t intend to drink, BYU offers far more interesting social and cultural opportunities than any comparable school

  • If you just want to make a lot of money and don’t care about Preftige, BYU is (or was) good enough by itself to get you on a respectable business or engineering track

  • Latter-day Saints have strong endogamy norms, and BYU is still indisputably the easiest place to make a temple marriage — you attend a student congregation with a throughput of thousands of young singles, and ecclesiastical leadership relentlessly oriented toward getting young men and women married

  • BYU students are extremely healthy and attractive

So if you wanted the kind of elite career that could support seven kids on a single income, you’d make a pit stop at BYU to receive your standard-issue blonde waifu and debt-free, good-enough undergraduate diploma — a credible slingshot to a real elite graduate program if you wanted it.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call it one of the most beautiful human creations of the 20th century, in terms of the kind of people it produced and the way of life it offered them.

And there’s still a lot to be said for it; but as elite employers and academic institutions make increasingly absurd ideological demands, BYU is struggling to credibly offer upward mobility while maintaining its religious integrity, and the current approach of splitting the difference isn’t working.

The Church has signaled willingness to abandon BYU’s accreditation rather than surrender its distinctiveness, which is obviously good to hear — but they are facing an increasingly open revolt from faculty and administration, who come from secular universities bringing every modern pathology, and overwhelming air support from the national media. The effort to restore discipline hasn’t worked so far.

BYU removes 'homosexual behavior' as an honor code violation | CNN

If BYU can’t offer a meaningful filter for values-aligned dating and professional networking, it will fall to a new equilibrium — offering a middle-of-the-road state school education at a steep discount.

But if you want young Latter-day Saints to start single-income families with seven kids, a middle-of-the-road state school can’t get them there anymore.

And of course, once elite-potential kids stop picking BYU, it stops being a place to find other elite-potential kids, and the talent pump loses suction altogether.

Which means that my tribe is going to have to bootstrap a new way of finding good matches for our kids, without the pedigree of the rallye.

That starts with a genuinely admirable and excellent adult culture.

If young people don’t find your way of life aspirational, and don’t want to become a grown man or woman in your social world, no amount of isolation or inoculation against the broader culture will matter.

This is an extremely difficult problem — sitting your kids in front of Veggie Tales or putting a content blocker on your browser is way easier than making your life a work of art.

I suspect that this is why so many parents throw their hands up at the work of culture, and allow their children to be raised by public schools and the internet.

They recognize, on some level, that they are not personally excellent in a sense that is competitive with the dominant cultural paradigm — so they bury themselves in defensive irony, embracing that parents just aren’t cool.

It’s not your fault that your children don’t respect you and don’t want to grow into your example: all teens are like that, it’s as inevitable as gravity.

Fortunately, the dominant cultural paradigm isn’t as hard to compete with as it used to be.

I feel no twinge of worry that my children will grow up to regret missing out on Lizzo and Lil Nas X and streaming slop.

It’s extremely easy to explain to my kid what I find objectionable about genital mutilation and morbid obesity and infanticide, and even more everyday things like the way they see other kids and grown-ups treat each other.

In a purely subtractive sense — the pathologies and unforced errors we avoid — the way of life we have to offer our children is already unambiguously better.

The problem that I see among family men, in and out of the church, is that they’re so focused on working and spending time with their families, that by the time their sons are teenagers, they realize have no appealing adult world in which to initiate them.

And all that effort to concoct the perfect childhood misfires, because childhood isn’t the point of childhood. You don’t get it by aiming at it.

Manosphere guys used to talk about how “modern culture has no rites of passage into manhood” — but efforts to manufacture such rites always fail, because they have no valid object. There is no manhood into which to be initiated — and a debutante ball is incoherent without an adult society into which a young woman can debut.

I suspect that this problem will be solved catastrophically in our lifetime.

The discipline of survival pressure is already returning, in the form of demographic collapse. Ordinary people may not be dying violently, but they are increasingly dying childless — which, for the survival of cultures, beliefs, ideas, and phenotypes, is exactly equivalent.

Getting an education and a job that can support a family, building a successful marriage, and having children are no longer social defaults — they are now existential struggles, and they demand particular types of excellence.

As demographic collapse becomes an economic crisis in the 2030s, and states are increasingly incapable of providing basic opportunity and security, we will no doubt rediscover even more basic domains of excellence.

The cultures that thrive will be the ones that coalesce around these virtues early and seriously — starting with the fathers. And it won’t be a LARP, because you’re really going to need it.


  • On last Tuesday’s full group call, we had a hot seat for the founder of a healthcare startup to discuss some early scaling moves. He connected with a marketer, a recruiter, an investor, and a founder in a related industry with whom he can collaborate.

  • This Tuesday night (5/21) we will have a private Q&A with David Kilcullen, author of Out of the Mountains, and one of the world’s foremost experts in counterinsurgency.

    • We’re going to discuss how counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and information warfare has evolved since the end of the Global War on Terror — and how lessons learned by all sides in that conflict are now being applied to internal political conflicts in the West.

    • If you want to refresh your memory on some of Kilcullen’s work, you can listen to EXIT Podcast #46: “How Did The Taliban Win?” in which I review Out of the Mountains. Members should submit questions for the Q&A by Monday night (5/20).

  • Side Hustle Summer is two weeks away. DB is hosting twice-weekly planning calls to help the guys to pick their project and get started. Reach out to DB or check the #entrepreneurship channel in the chat for more details.

  • Cocktail hour RSVP links for New York City (6/21) and Columbus (7/19) below the fold for paid subscribers. These are a great opportunity to meet your local guys, and see if the full group is a good fit for you. Invites to the members-only portion of the meetup will be sent via email.

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