Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Leisure of the Theory Class

Thanks to peer pressure, I've been reading bits of Thorstein Veblen's extended joke, The Theory of the Leisure Class. The basic line is that the actual ruling class values status above all, and gets that status by not working. By using the language of virtue, which for everybody else has been associated with work, he's doing mockery.

Dip a toe in anywhere, & you get something good -

In this connection it is worthy of notice that the possibility of producing pathological and other idiosyncrasies of person and manner by shrewd mimicry and a systematic drill have been turned to account in the deliberate production of a cultured class—often with a very happy effect. In this way, by the process vulgarly known as snobbery, a syncopated evolution of gentle birth and breeding is achieved in the case of a goodly number of families and lines of descent.

Cute, but he pounds the same joke for hundreds of pages.

Take away the snark, and the way this plays out in what now passes for real life is a desperate striver confused as to whether they are showing off industriousness or elegance, culminating in a desperate mess

As our economy moves more from reality to finance & propaganda, class & connections settle firmly into place. What's one to do? Fevered striving or feigned indifference?

Barbie can't handle mixed messages.


Susan of Texas said...

Both! If you're Megan McArdle. She displays fevered indifference, trying to appear elite to the middle classes while not quite sure how.

Downpuppy said...


This post is still in flux. I had to stop at the edge of getting too personal.