Hoisted from the Archives: Robert Skidelsky vs. Niall Ferguson: John Maynard Keynes Is Not Ke$ha (Also, the U.S. Is Not Greece, and 2013 Is Not 1923)

Ian Buruma (2001): Class Acts: "According to Cannadine, race was not everything in the British Raj. It was not even the main point. Class was the main point. Class, status, and rank were more important than skin color, the shape of one's eyes, or the dimensions of one's skull. A Sultan, a Nizam, or a Pasha was equal to British royalty...

...even if the Queen-Empress or King-Emperor residing in Windsor was perched securely at the top of the imperial tree. In Queen Victoria's eyes, King Kalakaua of Hawaii was one of us, so to speak, while a respectable tradesman from Birmingham, though blessed with the pinkest complexion, most decidedly was not. When King Kalakaua attended a grand "do" at Lady Spencer's in 1881, the Prince of Wales insisted that the Hawaiian monarch should take precedence over the German crown prince, who was later to become Kaiser Wilhelm II. When the touchy German protested, the prince held firm. "Either the brute is a king, or he is a common or garden nigger; and if the latter, what's he doing here?" It was not a particularly charming remark; but, as Cannadine rightly says, it was not primarily a racist one either, for "the freemasonry" of rank trumped "the alternative and more recent freemasonry based on the unifying characteristic of shared skin color"...


#shouldread

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