This post will briefly cover the last idea Veblen outlined in Chapter Eight. Aside from his referring to the leisure class as barbaric and predatory, this is the place in the book when I began to suspect that Veblen didn't actually like or admire the upper class. Of course even by 1899 the industrial revolution had made many of the middle class quite wealthy and perhaps it was this group that Veblen held in greater esteem, people who worked to achieve their place in society.
Still talking about conservatism, Veblen acknowledges that all change is not for good and so some reserve on the matter might thwart a few disasters. However, social change does occur in spite of conservatism. He goes on to characterise economic institutions into two camps. One camp is to do with acquisition or what he labels as ‘pecuniary’ and serving ‘invidious’ interests. He also calls these ‘business interests’. The other camp is to do with production or industrial purposes and they are considered ‘non-invidious’. He says this latter type of institution rarely concerns the ruling class and so doesn't normally become involved in legislation, which of course is under the control of the leisure class.
“The relation of the leisure (that is, propertied non-industrial) class to the economic process is a pecuniary relation — a relation of acquisition, not of production; of exploitation, not of serviceability. Their office is of a parasitic character, and their interest is to divert what substance they may to their own use, and to retain whatever is under their hand. The conventions of the business world have grown up under the selective surveillance of this principle of predation or parasitism. They are conventions of ownership; derivatives, more or less remote, of the ancient predatory culture.