Paul Fussell’s “Class: A Guide Through The American Status System”

Scott Alexander writes:

1. Anything artificial is lower-class, anything natural or organic (derived from a living thing) is higher-class. The most prole piece of furniture is “folding chairs made of aluminum tubing with bright-green plastic-mesh webbing”. The most prole fabrics are nylon and polyester, especially if worn with pride because they’re “high-tech”. Plastic or particleboard furniture is low-class, “real wood” furniture is upper-class.

2. Closely related: the more technology something has, especially weird gimmicky “Space Age” technology, the lower-class it is.

3. The more convenient something is, the lower class.

4. Foreign things are high class, especially British things.

5. If you have to be in the United States, some places are classier than others. The best places are “those longest under occupation by financially prudent Anglo-Saxons… Where then may a member of the top classes live in this country? New York first of all, of course. Chicago. San Francisco. Philadelphia. Baltimore. Boston.

Regardless of their degree status, proles are marked by believing dumb things. So along with bowling alleys and megachurches, Fussell judges the prolishness of a town by the prominence of the astrology column in their local newspaper. These are also the people who consume tabloids, conspiracy theories, and TV shows about how It Was Aliens.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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