Then, again, who does not see how empty, how foolish, is the fame of noble birth? Why, if the nobility is based on renown, the renown is another’s! For, truly, nobility seems to be a sort of reputation coming from the merits of ancestors. But if it is the praise which brings renown, of necessity it is they who are praised that are famous. Wherefore, the fame of another clothes thee not with splendour if thou hast none of thine own. So, if there is any excellence in nobility of birth, methinks it is this alone—that it would seem to impose upon the nobly born the obligation not to degenerate from the virtue of their ancestors.

–  St Severinus Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy

Classes are a natural feature of human society perfected and not abolished by grace. They are also hereditary in that one is born into them. In a society undisturbed by foreign occupation, kleptocracy, usury or socialism these classes ought to be

1. Clerical

2. Religious

3. Chivalric

4. Agrarian

5. Academic

6. Artisanal

I omit ‘mercantile’ as ideally such persons will be the paid servants (or better, junior members) of the sixth class.  In English terms the upper echelons of the first and second classes constitute the Lords Spiritual, the upper echelons of the third the Lords Temporal, the lower ranks of the third and the free-holding members of the fourth would be the electors of the Shires, the Masters of the fifth class would be the electors of the Universities and the Masters of the sixth be the electors of the Boroughs.

However, there seems no reason as such why the Lords Temporal should hold office by descent rather than election. Undoubtedly this was a feature of mediaeval life but this feature of mediaeval life was a consequence of the Völkerwanderung and, far from being a positive feature, was the Achilles’ heal by which the entire edifice was brought down at its weakest point (the French monarchy).

It is entirely natural and good that, in the main, a child should follow his parents in their station in life. It is also unnatural, unjust and harmful if a child is prevented from following his talents if they lead him elsewhere. Men and women will quite naturally gravitate in differing proportions to different occupations and social functions and any attempt to suppress this tendency is unnatural, unjust and harmful but equally any attempt to enforce what ought to come naturally is tyrannical and counter productive. Likewise, the attempt to harden into a caste system the natural tendency of a child to follow his forebears in his class and profession will gravely weaken any society in which it occurs and eventually provoke a devastating reaction.

Why is this so important? Because talentless toffs were the ruin of Christendom and the Ancien Régime in France was sufficiently stupid as to be immoral. As Pius XI observed,

What We have taught about the reconstruction and perfection of social order can surely in no wise be brought to realisation without reform of morality, the very record of history clearly shows. For there was a social order once which, although indeed not perfect or in all respects ideal, nevertheless, met in a certain measure the requirements of right reason, considering the conditions and needs of the time. If that order has long since perished, that surely did not happen because the order could not have accommodated itself to changed conditions and needs by development and by a certain expansion, but rather because men, hardened by too much love of self, refused to open the order to the increasing masses as they should have done, or because, deceived by allurements of a false freedom and other errors, they became impatient of every authority and sought to reject every form of control.

The French Revolution was a disaster but no disease is ever cured by seeking to replicate the conditions obtaining at the moment it was contracted.