A Rebuttal to a Prohibition Partygoer | Angus Gillan
The foundational text of the West, Homer’s Iliad, holds within its pages messages and lessons that go beyond fanciful stories of man and the gods. As Paris’s arrow pierces Achilles’ ankle, the near-immortal soldier falls lifeless to the ground, the dusty battlefield besmirching his youthful vigour and beauty. Ajax the Great and Odysseus fight fierce odds to recover the body of their friend, at great peril; for a hero ‘leaves no man behind’.
An author of the recent Tatler Bystander article: ‘Diary of a Gen-Z prohibition partygoer’, clearly missed these lessons, notably on duty. While detailing cavorting and law-breaking escapades, including escaping to a country house to party with friends, attending an illegal rave in the soundproof basement of a city property complete with bouncers and door staff, and snaffling up Choco-shrooms, they promote the fact “government guidelines are being gleefully disregarded”.
In the authors quest to live a life of civility and sophistication, it would be advisable they revisit the pages of the seminal work of Western literature, in particular Book XII. In these pages Sarpedon, a son of Zeus and Trojan hero, teaches us what the French would later coin as noblesse oblige, that whoever claims to be noble must conduct themselves nobly. Aptly put by Guy de Rothschild, “one must live up to one’s name”. The hero calls upon his comrades:
‘Tis ours, the dignity they give to grace
The first in valour, as the first in place;
That when with wondering eyes our confidential bands
Behold our deeds transcending our commands,
Such, they may cry, deserve the sovereign state,
Whom those that envy dare not imitate!
Put plainly, those who find themselves in a grander position than their peers, go above and beyond. As a result of outstanding character, they are, naturally in a world of hierarchy, entitled to a position of authority. For centuries knights in shining armour, Kings, philosophers, politicians, and industrialists have followed the teaching of noblesse oblige. Such a belief has long been intwined in the Wests’ Christian inheritance. By undertaking good works for no other reason than to meet a self-imposed obligation of being charitable, an individual becomes an asset to their locality. If more of society were to hold themselves to this obligation it would become clear that there is more to life than oneself.
In more cynical terms, this overt morality provides the aristocracy with a justification for their privilege. In much the same way that the monarchy is preserved by respectability and the dodging of controversy, it is harder for The Revolution and the dispossession of the upper classes to be called for if they at least look like a bunch of upstanding chaps.
It is fair to say the present fits Thomas Paine’s statement, “these are the times that try men’s souls”. However, this Bystander has opted to embrace hedonistic hyper-individualism. Thinking that rebelling against a situation created by transmissible disease is the same as rejecting the puritanical moral case for historic alcohol prohibition is a deluded conclusion, one that can only be reached if you take a me-me-me view of the world, where the wellbeing of others come second to sensorial experiences. Whereas John Locke gave to us the theory that humans could live peacefully together as long as individuals did not harm each other, the author’s activity is not compatible with social stability, for it lacks empathy. But then again, we do all love a party, so despite two million deaths, we must thank Christ that Tarquin and Arabella can enjoy magic mushroom-chocolates and play hanky-panky.
The author of ‘Diary of a Gen-Z prohibition partygoer’, has therefore left Achilles in the dust of callous indifference. I hope that should Agamemnon call me to war, that the author is not anywhere near me if I fall, for I would place a king’s ransom on them leaving the body to be ravaged by the Trojans as they retreat, in stark contrast to the solidarity of Ajax.
If the aim in publishing this article was to look cheeky and edgy, it fails. A celebration of flagrant disregard displays either ignorance or indifference to ordinary people sacrificing everything. Beyond mocking the rest of us, this Bystander has lost their justification for privilege.