By Thorsten Veblen
All through heritage, a few books have replaced the realm. they've got remodeled the best way we see ourselves ? and every different. they've got encouraged debate, dissent, warfare and revolution. they've got enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. they've got enriched lives ? and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the good thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose principles shook civilization and helped make us who we're. With its wry portrayal of a shallow, materialistic ?leisure category? obsessed via outfits, vehicles, client items and hiking the social ladder, this withering satire on smooth capitalism is as pertinent at the present time as while it used to be written over a century in the past.
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Additional info for Conspicuous Consumption
It is among this highest leisure class, who have no superiors and few peers, that decorum finds its fullest and maturest expression; and it is this highest class also that gives decorum that definitive formulation which serves as a canon of conduct for the classes beneath. And here also the code is most obviously a code of status and shows most plainly its incompatibility with all vulgarly productive work. A divine assurance and an imperious complaisance, as of one habituated to require subservience and to take no thought for the morrow, is the birthright and the criterion of the gentleman at his best; and it is in popular apprehension even more than that, for this demeanour is accepted as an intrinsic attribute of superior worth, before which the base-born commoner delights to stoop and yield.
Phenomena of this character – especially those whose behaviour is notably formidable or baffling – have to be met in a different spirit and with proficiency of a different kind from what is required in dealing with inert things. To deal successfully with such phenomena is a work of exploit rather than of industry. It is an assertion of prowess, not of diligence. Under the guidance of this naïve discrimination between the inert and the animate, the activities of the primitive social group tend to fall into two classes, which would in modern phrase be called exploit and industry.
The life of a given group would be characterised as peaceable so long as habitual recourse to combat has not brought the fight into the foreground in men’s everyday thoughts, as a dominant feature of the life of man. A group may evidently attain such a predatory attitude with a greater or less degree of completeness, so that its scheme of life and canons of conduct may be controlled to a greater or less extent by the predatory animus. The predatory phase of culture is therefore conceived to come on gradually, through a cumulative growth of predatory aptitudes, habits, and traditions; this growth being due to a change in the circumstances of the group’s life, of such a kind as to develop and conserve those traits of human nature and those traditions and norms of conduct that make for a predatory rather than a peaceable life.
Conspicuous Consumption by Thorsten Veblen