Wednesday, May 9, 2012

As a Brit from a working-class family, raised in a northern working-class town, who attended (at taxpayer expense) a fine quasi-private school and then went to Oxford, I'm interested in snobbery. It's a trait I despise. I've seen plenty of it in my time, though there's far less in Britain than there used to be.

As a young man I aspired to live and work in the US because I wanted to be part of a thriving classless society. Of course that was naive. America is not a classless society. I'm not talking about the 1% and the 99%, and I'm not talking about mainstream America and the underclass (shocking though that gulf is). I'm talking about elite disdain for a much larger segment of the country. It's a cultural thing: American snobbery.

"Indeed, it could be argued that the unprecedented level of socioeconomic segregation in America is actively promoted by an elite that is continually attempting to create and inflate behavioural and cultural distinctions between itself and the rest of society. What is important about its lifestyle is not so much the values that it invokes, but that it is different in every detail from those obese, junk-food eating, gas-guzzling, gun-obsessed, fundamentalist Joe Sixpacks. The elite project of 'raising awareness' serves as a form of self-flattery, through which the upper classes can highlight their moral superiority to the rest of society."

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