In the last post we started talking about societies' development from pressure to change. In modern society this pressure is economic. The leisure class is 'exempt from industry', ie their income is not earned, and so this class is largely sheltered from economic pressures. This allows them not to change, making this class largely conservative.
Veblen goes on to say that altered conditions brought about by social changes may benefit the group as a whole, but generally will result in a decrease 'of facility or fullness of life for some members of the group'. Those at risk of losing from the change have the most incentive to accept new standards and in doing so to hopefully shape the new customs to their own advantage. Veblen refers to the lower classes, but he means the middle class when he talks about people who try to create and direct change to their own advantage. I don't recall that Veblen ever uses the term 'middle class' but he does talk about the 'business class'.
At first when Veblen is describing why the leisure class is resistant to change one things he's almost defending them, saying this is not due to any 'unworthy motive' such as protecting their own interests by maintaining present conditions. He says that revulsion to change is instinctive in all men and only overcome by stress of circumstances.
“All change in habits of life and of thought is irksome.”
“… it is imperatively incumbent on all who would lead a blameless life in point of social repute. Conservatism, being an upper-class characteristic, is decorous; and conversely, innovation, being a lower class phenomenon, is vulgar.”
“…the evils which he seeks to remedy are sufficiently remote in point of time or space or personal contact — still one cannot but be sensible of the fact that the innovator is a person with whom it is at least distasteful to be associated, and from whose social contact one must shrink. Innovation is bad form.”
the disestablishment of the Anglican Church
an increased facility of divorce
adoption of female suffrage
prohibition of the manufacture & sale of intoxicating beverages
abolition or restriction of inheritances
Any of this sound familiar?