Ace has an interesting post comparing class distinctions in mid-1800s England with those that are arising in American society today. Citing the book Victorian London by Liza Picard, he says:
She noted, for example, that a Bank of England clerk would be a member of the middle/professional class, despite the fact that what he did all day was hand-write numbers into ledgers and do simple arithmetic and some filing work and the like, whereas, say, a carpenter actually did real thinking, real planning, at his job, with elements of real creativity.
And yet it was the Bank of England clerk who was considered a “mind” worker and the carpenter merely a hand-laborer.
and, moving to the present era:
I noticed in the mid-nineties the new buzzword was “the Information Elite,” a proposed new class that included, by definition, anyone in the media, no matter how low-level or rote/mechanical in their actual job function. And you know who couldn’t get enough of talking about the “Information Elite?” The media, of course! Because everytime they brought it up, and fretted about this new class distinction that might have harmful effects for sooociiiiety, they were of course flattering themselves by naming themselves “the Elite”…And this all goes hand in hand with my own Great Big Idea, that liberalism is largely, by subconscious design, a machine of class-differentiation for those aspiring to be part of an upper class to count themselves as part of that upper class, even if (especially if!) their credentials for belonging to that class are otherwise slim.
Read the whole thing. Link via Maggie’s Farm.