The Beauty of Business: What Bad Classical Education Misses (Part 3/5)

The Beauty of Business: What Bad Classical Education Misses (Part 3/5) November 13, 2018

In 1914 classically educated men destroyed the world. 1918 was a disaster where almost everything was worse than the promise that existed in 1913 . . . The vices of Europe fed and grew fat on the corpse of Christendom while the virtues were starved.

If you educate classically, you should pause, stop, think about it. Why did the classically educated bring on the guns of August 1914? One deep problem was a disdain or a false superiority over industry, one we in academia keep making. Let’s stop.

Some educators do not hide their disdain from business people: “money makers.” They will talk to them, they have money the educators need. They will take the sordid money from business and purify the coin by using it for more administrators who will ask more business people (they despise) for more money.

That is bad enough, but worse is the educrat who thinks he will sell out: he accepts that business is sordid, but knows that to do the Good Education he longs to provide, with the junkets he longs to attend, that he must caper and compromise. He might hate himself, but he will tell the titan of industry what he wishes to hear and so get the coin he needs.

Such an “educator” is a liar and a hypocrite, but the system is likely to make him a high priced administrator.

There is virtue to the open Bolshevik: he kills, because he thinks he must so good may come. He rejects the capitalist, does not compromise with him.  This is evil, but at least intellectually consistent evil. There should be no sympathy for the fund raiser who despises the people from whom he raises funds.

Yet I have seen it. . .

This attitude, business creators as bad guys, twists classical education by ignoring the patron relationship present in classical culture!

The patron as friend is missing in 1914.

The patron is a creative, often more creative than a paid creative in the university, but a person whose creativity has made money. Now, in generosity, he decides his money should be given to someone else. This gift produces a desire on the part of the receiver to honor the giver. . . Not from a quid pro quo, but from decency. The patron and the client is more like a parent and an adult child than any other relationship. Gratitude motives the client to support the patron and help as she can. The patron/client relationship made our civilization: art was made, jobs were created, the sublime and beautiful subsidized.

Education, like medicine, does not function well with a pure profit motive, however, it does even worse when it lies to get money. Instead, education flourishes when patrons, captains of creativity (industry and business), unite with academics to provide an integrated education. 

By 1914, this relationship had become corrupted: too many professors (dons) did not know or care where the money came from having no knowledge of the creativity that could have saved us. The industrialist was just Dickens’ Bounderby, the ugly cash cow.

American higher education has become just like 1917, either despising the captains of creativity and offering to sanctify their sordid lucre or Judas sycophants bowing down to mammon.

The men of 1914 were divided between the creators and the students. The separation was deadly as the doers and the reflective men despised each other. The deep, slow, preservation of ancient knowledge seems impracticable. The beauty of creating a business can be missed if a professor is stupid enough to think this great act of creation is mere money making.

The patron cultivates civilization by magnanimous creation, first of a business, and secondarily by gifts to the culture. The person receiving the gift has an obligation to honor the patron and benefit the civilization he loves. The patron is a friend and no Christian would accept patronage from a person they did not respect.

The men of 1914 had been educated by people cut off from the makers of the weapons of war. The makers of the weapons of war were used or abused by the educators. They were told they were mercenary, some were. Few educators reached out and the few that did were not in search of dialog, but cash. We assume “they” were all money grubbed and so attracted money grabbers!

None learned from any and so almost all was lost.

What is needed?

1. Creatives in business are creative. Academics should see and celebrate.

2. If someone supports you, then they are a patron. You could reduce this to money or form a better bond of love. Get a patron if you can.

3. Any separation between the “gentleman” in academics and the “businesman”damns us all. All truth and creativity is God’s truth and creativity and our civilization needs essential unity.


Sign up for the classical education that learned from World War I: college and K-12. 




This is a five part series: 12, 3,

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!