Rich yob, poor yob

I don’t know if there’s a connection, but wardytron’s post contrasting the genteel wealth of Wimbledon Common with the hopelessness and violent crime of Clapham appeared about the same time that Andrew Sullivan took up the subject of upper-class yobbishness– especially as embodied by the Bullingdon Club of Oxford.

Nothing new about this, of course. Evelyn Waugh satirized Bullingdon’s destructive binges in Decline and Fall (1928) and Brideshead Revisited (1945). And such behavior is hardly limited to overprivileged Brits. As the narrator in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) says of the rich and brattish Tom Buchanan (a reality-based character):

I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

The big difference, of course, is that wealthy prats can afford to have other people clean up their messes. But perhaps what they have in common with underclass yobs is a sense that nothing they do has any serious consequences for themselves. For the destructive poor, it’s a belief that no matter what they do, things can’t get much worse for them. For the destructive rich, it’s a belief (too often justified) that their parents’ money and influence make them virtually invulnerable.