IS: Books and articles on the “decline of the WASP” have practically become a cottage industry, and that’s part of what you cover in your column. What are your thoughts on this?I consider the theory that "WASPs" declined in influence because they were too "exclusive" (essentially a rehashing of Baltzell's argument) so ridiculous it needs no refutation. Did the existence of exclusively Jewish institutions hinder the ascent of Jews?
JJ: I think we’ve been witnessing the end of WASP ascendancy for a while. It’s true that WASPs have less power with each passing decade since the ’50s. Part of it is their own fault, because their exclusive social practices have limited them. They haven’t brought in fresh talent and ideas, and been able to maintain their influence. Both the decline and what still remains equally fascinate me. And there are people I know who’ve had much more WASPy upbringings than I did.
IS: What are the degrees of WASPiness in one’s upbringing?
JJ: I mean that I had some outside influences. If you are raised in an affluent WASPy household, and you don’t interact with anyone who isn’t a part of that community, your upbringing is more WASPy. And there are some people who don’t want to interact with anyone who isn’t Protestant Old Money.
IS: How much of the old WASP prejudices still exist?
JJ: They still exist. They’re acknowledged less and less, and are certainly stated less and less, but it’s definitely a community that still holds prejudices. That’s how you’re raised. Exclusivity has been such a part of the WASP world for so long it’s impossible not to take impressions from it.
IS: And what of the virtues still remain? Are young people still raised to hold things like ostentation and naked ambition in contempt, and to appreciate understatement, have a moral sense, and feel an obligation for civic duty?Now we're getting closer to the truth. Membership in the modern corporate and political elite selects for values that are antithetical to those traditionally professed by "WASPs".
JJ: I think those values still exist. There is definitely a preference for understatement, and people encourage subtlety and a less ostentatious way of living.
IS: Your film includes Ivanka Trump, and the Trump family isn’t exactly known for subtlety.
JJ: But I think WASPs are behind the times in that regard. There’s nothing wrong with subtlety, but at the same time there’s nothing wrong with self-promotion. Times have changed, that’s why you don’t see that many WASPs involved in the highest ranks of government, business and culture. They’re hanging on to values that are irrelevant in the modern world.
On a related note, a VDARE reader points out "Blue-Eyed Bankers Left Wall Street Long Ago":
For years, blue eyes have been very out of fashion on Wall Street to the point of obvious and systemic discrimination.The reader also points to an article by Jim Cramer, "Wrong! That's Not Blue Blood Running Morgan Stanley.":
During the era I lived in Manhattan, the overwhelming ethnic profile of banking and the New York Mayor's office Manhattan was "Mediterranean White." This extended to Washington D.C. appointments, some of whom came from those communities.
Last I looked, Lloyd Blankfein, Richard Fuld, Stan O'Neal, Jimmy Cayne and Sandy Weill weren't Skull-and-Bones guys. I mean, what is Hatch thinking? The only place where there was even a hint of blue blood the whole time I worked on Wall Street was at Morgan, and that got swept away years ago. The Bones types are in the White House, but they aren't on Wall Street.
This amazing observation from a well-intentioned Senator comes at a time when still one more non-blueBlood, Joe Perella, joins perennial non-blueblood Vikram Pandit in exiting the firm.
We are reviled for much on Wall Street, but one thing we are pretty good at is having a meritocracy of numbers. You deliver numbers no matter what race, color or creed you are moving up on Wall Street. You blow the numbers away, you are king. You mess up on the numbers, you are supposed to be gone.
And that's the true irony in this Morgan Stanley story. The guys departing Morgan Stanley now aren't Bones types at all. They left long ago. The guys departing now are the numbers guys. That's the real irony.
Too bad that Hatch doesn't spend some time on Wall Street. I think he would be shocked. It looks a lot more like Main Street than, say, Pennsylvania Avenue. And that's a good thing.