Notes from *The Theory of  the Leisure Class* by Thorstein Veblen
The rule holds with but slight exceptions that the upper  classes
are exempt from industrial employments, and this exemption is the
economic expression of their superior rank.  How did this come to
be?  Veblen traces it to lower barbaric cultures, where women are
held to those employments out of which the industrial occupations
proper develop at the next advance in culture.  Generally, in the
lower barbaric cultures, the men hunt and go to war and the women
do  whatever  other  labor  is required.  Because the hunting/war
activities of the men  are  sporadic  in their time requirements,
this class tends to have leisure time.  The male  employments  of
hunting  and  war  also are associated with greater status in the
group than are the female employments. 
In the higher  barbarian  cultures,  the  line  of demarcation of
employments   comes   to   divide   the   industrial   from   the
non-industrial  employments.   Virtually  the  whole   range   of
industrial  employments  is  an  outgrowth  of what is classed as
woman's  work  in   the   primitive   barbarian  community.   The
institution of a leisure class  is  the  outgrowth  of  an  early
discrimination  between  employments,  according  to  which  some
employments are worthy and others unworthy. 
The earliest form of ownership is an ownership of  the  women  by
the able-bodied men of the community.  (A vestige of this is seen
in  the traditional wedding ceremony:  "Who *gives* this woman to
be wed?") The ownership  of  women  begins in the lower barbarian
cultures, apparently with  the  seizure  of  female  captives  as
trophies   of   war.    This   in   turn   leads  to  a  form  of
ownership-marriage.  This is followed  by an extension of slavery
to other  captives  and  inferiors,  besides  women,  and  by  an
extension  of ownership-marriage to other women than those seized
from the enemy.  The root cause for all this is the desire by the
successful men to  put  their  exploitive  prowess in evidence by
exhibiting some durable result  of  their  exploits.   Note  this
well:    Proof  of  the  exploitive  prowess  is  required;  this
exploitive prowess is not  demonstrated  to the entire tribe when
the males are away engaged in hunting/war.
From the ownership of women  the  concept  of  ownership  extends
itself  to  include  the  products  of the women's, captives' and
other "inferiors" industry  (the industrial, vulgar employments),
and so there arises  the  ownership  of  things  as  well  as  of
persons.   Not  noted  by Veblen in his book is that proof of the
exploitive prowess is also demonstrated by so-called "trophies of
war," such as  (for  example)  scalps.   In  this  way  also  the
development of ownership of things may have been derived.
"Wealth" comes to serve as  honorific  evidence  of  the  owner's
prepotence.   Ownership  began  and grew into a human institution
not for mere  subsistence;  the  dominant  incentive was from the
outset the invidious distinction attaching to  wealth.   Wherever
the  institution  of  private  property  is  found,  the economic
process bears the character  of  a  struggle  between men for the
possession of goods. 
The initial phase of ownership, the phase of acquisition by naive
seizure and conversion, begins to pass into the subsequent  stage
of  an incipient organization of industry on the basis of private
property (in slaves);  the  horde  develops  into  a more or less
self-sufficing industrial community; possessions then come to  be
valued not so much as evidence of successful foray, but rather as
evidence  of  the prepotence of the possessor of these goods over
other individuals within the community.  The invidious comparison
now becomes primarily a  comparison  of  the owner with the other
members of the group.   Property  becomes  a  trophy  of  success
scored in the game of ownership.  Wealth gains in importance as a
customary basis of repute and esteem.  And it is even more to the
point  that  property  now  becomes  the  most  easily recognized
evidence of a reputable  degree  of success as distinguished from
heroic  or  signal  achievement.   It   therefore   becomes   the
conventional  basis  of  esteem.   Its  possession in some amount
becomes necessary in order  to  any  reputable  standing  in  the
community.    The   possession  of  wealth  becomes,  in  popular
apprehension, itself a meritorious act.
Those  members  of  the  community  who  fall short of the normal
trophy/wealth ownership suffer in the esteem of their fellow-men;
and consequently they suffer in their own esteem, since the usual
basis of self-respect is the respect accorded by one's neighbors.
Only individuals with an aberrant temperament can in the long run
retain their self-esteem in  the  face  of the disesteem of their
fellows.   Apparent  exceptions  to  the  rule  are   met   with,
especially  among people with strong religious convictions.  (But
is the religious  exception  due  merely  to  the  formation of a
sub-group of like-minded  believers,  who  offer  esteem  amongst
themselves based on something other than property?) 
As   fast  as  a  person  makes  new  acquisitions,  and  becomes
accustomed to  the  resulting  new  standard  of  wealth, the new
standard  forthwith  ceases   to   afford   appreciably   greater
satisfaction  than the earlier standard did.  The tendency in any
case is constantly  to  make  the  present pecuniary standard the
point of departure for a fresh increase in wealth;  and  this  in
turn  gives  rise  to  a  new  standard  of sufficiency and a new
pecuniary classification of  one's  self  as  compared with one's
neighbors.  A satiation of the  average  or  general  desire  for
wealth  is  out  of the question:  the ground of this need is the
desire of everyone to excel  everyone else in the accumulation of
goods (trophies).  Since the struggle is substantially a race for
reputability on the basis of an invidious comparison, no approach
to a definitive attainment is possible.
When the lower  barbarian  culture  emerges  into  the  predatory
stage,  where  self-seeking  in  the  narrower  sense becomes the
dominant note, this trait  shapes  the  scheme of life.  Relative
success, tested by an invidious pecuniary comparison  with  other
men,  becomes  the conventional end of action.  Purposeful effort
comes to mean, primarily,  effort  directed  to or resulting in a
more creditable showing of accumulated wealth. 
The trophy or booty taken by  the  predatory  class  is  tangible
exhibition of its exploits.  At a later stage, it is customary to
assume  some  badge  or  insignia  of  honor  that  serves  as  a
conventionally  accepted  mark  of exploit, and which at the same
time  indicates  the  quantity  or  degree  of  exploit.   As the
population increases in density, and as human relations grow more
complex and numerous, all the details of life undergo  a  process
of  elaboration and selection; and in this process of elaboration
the use of  trophies  develops  into  a  system  of rank, titles,
degrees and insignia. 
With the exception of  the  instinct  of  self-preservation,  the
propensity for emulation is probably the strongest and most alert
and  persistent of the economic motives proper.  In an industrial
community  this  propensity  for  emulation  expresses  itself in
pecuniary emulation.  As increased industrial efficiency makes it
possible to procure the means of livelihood with less labor,  the
energies  of the industrious members of the community are bent to
the compassing  of  a  higher  result  in conspicuous expenditure
(thus emulating  the  elite  class  habits  and,  by  imputation,
associating    oneself    with   that   class   with   consequent
"reputability"), rather  than  slackened  to  a  more comfortable
pace.  It is owing chiefly to this element  that  J.S.  Mill  was
able  to  say  that  "hitherto  it  is  questionable  if  all the
mechanical inventions yet made  have  lightened the day's toil of
any human being."   
The accepted standard of expenditure in the community or  in  the
class  to  which  a  person  belongs  largely determines what his
standard of living will be.   It does this directly by commending
itself to his  common  sense  as  right  and  good,  through  his
habitually contemplating it and assimilating the scheme  of  life
in  which  it  belongs;  but  it  does so also indirectly through
popular  insistence  on  conformity  to  the  accepted  scale  of
expenditure as a matter of propriety, under pain of disesteem and
ostracism.  The standard of  living  of  any class is commonly as
high as the earning capacity of the class will permit --  with  a
constant  tendency  to  go  higher.   The effect upon the serious
activities  of  men  is  therefore  to  direct  them  with  great
singleness of  purpose  to  the  largest  possible acquisition of
The  thief  or  swindler  who  has  gained  great  wealth  by his
delinquency has a better chance  than the small thief of escaping
the rigorous  penalty  of  the  law.   True,  the  sacredness  of
property  is  one of the salient features of the community's code
of morals.  However due to the implied honorific value associated
with great wealth, the big-time crooks normally are less severely
punished (if at all) than the common criminal. 
Conspicuous and Vicarious Consumption
The utility  of  consumption  as  an  evidence  of  wealth  is an
adaptation  of  a  distinction  previously  existing   and   well
established in men's habits of thought.  In the earlier phases of
the  predatory  culture  the  only  economic differentiation is a
broad distinction  between  an  honorable  superior  caste of the
able-bodied men and an inferior class of laboring women.  The men
consume what the women produce and the women consume only what is
incidentally necessary.  What the women consume in this phase  is
only  a  means  to their continued labor and is not a consumption
directed to their own comfort  and  fulness of life.  The greater
consumption of goods  by  the  superior  class,  in  the  earlier
predatory culture, becomes honorable in itself. 
When  the  quasi-peaceable  stage  of  industry  is  reached, the
general principle  is  that  the  base,  industrious class should
consume  only  what  may  be  necessary  to  their   subsistence.
Luxuries and the comforts of life belong to the elite class; they
consume  freely  and  of  the  best,  in  food, drink, narcotics,
shelter, services, ornaments, apparel, weapons and accoutrements,
amusements, amulets, etc.   Since  the  consumption of these more
excellent goods is an evidence of wealth, it  becomes  honorific;
and  conversely,  the  failure  to  consume  in  due quantity and
quality becomes a mark of inferiority and demerit. 
At a later stage, further distinctions in class occur.  Those who
are associated with the higher  grades  of the elite class (e.g.,
by marriage, birth, or as servants) gain in  repute.   Being  fed
and  countenanced  by  their patron, they are indices of his rank
and  vicarious  consumers  of   his   wealth.    This   vicarious
consumption  must  be  performed  in  some  such  manner as shall
plainly point to the master from  whom it originates, and to whom
therefore the resulting increment of  good  repute  inures.   The
dependant   who   is   first  delegated  the  duty  of  vicarious
consumption is the wife, or the  chief wife.  In the less wealthy
classes a curious inversion occurs.  In these classes there is no
pretence of leisure on the part of the  head  of  the  household.
But  the  middle-class  wife  still  carries  on  the business of
vicarious consumption, for the good name of the household and its
Pecuniary Canons of Taste
As noted, the industrious class is allowed to consume only  at  a
subsistence  level  in  the later phase of the predatory culture.
And the elite class  consumes  the  best in food, drink, shelter,
apparel, ornaments, amusements, etc.  The growth  of  punctilious
discrimination  as to qualitative excellence in eating, drinking,
etc., presently affects not only the manner of life, but also the
training and intellectual activity  of  the  elite class.  It now
becomes incumbent  on  them  to  discriminate  with  some  nicety
between  the  noble  and  the  ignoble in consumable goods.  They
become "cultured." 
The requirements  of  pecuniary  decency  influence  the sense of
beauty and of utility in articles of use or beauty.  The superior
gratification derived from the use and  contemplation  of  costly
and  supposedly beautiful products is, commonly, in great measure
a gratification of our sense of costliness masquerading under the
name of beauty.  Our higher  appreciation of the superior article
is an appreciation of its superior honorific character, much more
frequently than it is  an  unsophisticated  appreciation  of  its
By further habituation to an appreciative perception of the marks
of  expensiveness  in goods, and by habitually identifying beauty
with reputability, it comes about  that a beautiful article which
is not expensive is accounted not beautiful.  In this way it  has
happened,   for   instance,  that  some  beautiful  flowers  pass
conventionally for offensive weeds; others that can be cultivated
with relative ease are accepted  and  admired by the lower middle
class, who can afford no more expensive luxuries  of  this  kind;
but  these  varieties  are rejected as vulgar by those people who
are better able to pay for expensive flowers and who are educated
to  a  higher  schedule  of  pecuniary  beauty  in  the florist's
products; while still other  flowers,  of  no  greater  intrinsic
beauty than these, are cultivated at great cost and call out much
admiration  from  flower-lovers  whose  tastes  have been matured
under the critical guidance of a polite environment. 
Everyday life offers  many  curious  illustrations  of the way in
which the code of pecuniary beauty in articles varies from  class
to  class.  Such a fact is the lawn, or the close-cropped yard or
park, which appears especially  to  appeal  to  the tastes of the
well-to-do classes.  The lawn is a cow pasture without  cows,  or
crop-yielding  land  left  fallow.  It presumably begins with one
fellow not planting corn on  his land, thereby showing that, "You
see, I am so well off, I need  not  grow  crops  on  this  land."
Soon, not to be left behind, his neighbors do likewise.  The next
one-upsmanship  is  to  not  only let the land lie fallow, but to
exquisitely manicure the lawn, showing perhaps that not only does
the land lie fallow now,  but  that  it  will in the future.  Why
such a fancy manicure of the lawn if it is soon  to  be  ploughed
and  seeded?   Then  all  in  the  neighborhood do likewise; they
exquisitely manicure their lawns.  And woe to the fellow who does
not!   Disesteem!   Ostracism!   We  all  laugh  at  the "Beverly
Hillbillies" when, upon  arriving  at  their  new  mansion,  they
immediately  begin  ploughing  their  acres.  Yet underneath is a
clue to a deeper meaning.

The  concept  of  feminine  beauty  has  evolved  in  accord with
pecuniary canons of taste.  In the stage of economic  development
at  which  women are valued by the upper class for their service,
the ideal of female beauty  is  a robust, large-limbed woman.  In
the succeeding phase,  when,  in  the  conventional  scheme,  the
office  of  the  high-class wife comes to be a vicarious leisure,
this concept of  beauty  changes.   The  new  ideal dwells on the
delicacy of the face, hands, and feet, the  slender  figure,  and
especially  the slender waist.  In modern (ca.  1899) communities
which have reached the  higher  levels of industrial development,
the upper leisure class has accumulated so great a mass of wealth
as to place its women above all imputation of vulgarly productive
labor.  The ideal of feminine beauty has therefore  shifted  from
the  woman  of  physical  presence, to the lady, and has begun to
shift back again to  the  woman  --  and  all in obedience to the
changing conditions of pecuniary emulation. 
How does the recent "women's liberation" movement  fit  into  all
this?   Writing  at  the  turn of the century, Veblen offers some
clues.   Before  the  predatory  culture,  what  Veblen  calls an
"ante-predatory  culture"  existed.    Because   this   barbarian
community  was  not  notably  warlike,  aptitudes  for  peace and
good-will  were   economically   supported.    In   all  classes,
recurrence of these  traits  occurs,  from  time  to  time,  with
certain  individuals  in  the  predatory culture.  However due to
harsh economic realities,  a  sort  of natural selection inhibits
the survival of these traits in  the  poorer  classes.   But  the
sheltered  position  of  the  elite  class favors the survival of
these traits, even  though  these  aptitudes  do  not receive the
affirmative sanction of the  elite's  code  of  proprieties.   In
other  words,  while  need of physical survival does not kill off
the sporadic reversion of traits of good-will, still, such traits
are frowned upon  by  the  elite  of  the  predatory culture.  By
reason of their exemption  from  the  usual  process  of  natural
selection,  ante-predatory, co-operative impulses survive more in
the case  of  leisure  class  women.   These  impulses  must seek
expression:    if   the   predatory   outlet   (e.g.,   invidious
distinction) fails, relief is sought elsewhere.  The tendency  to
some  other  than  an  invidious  purpose  in life works out in a
multitude of organizations, the purpose  of which is some work of
charity or of social amelioration.  In the late 19th century such
social improvement organizations would have  been,  for  example,
temperance  groups  and  groups  working  for  women's  suffrage.
Extending  from this can be seen that, after women's suffrage the
logical next social improvement is equality for women.
As can be seen,  the  so-called  women's movement originates with
the elite class.  This editor has noted  that  today's  feminists
tend  to  favor  their own class interests above and beyond their
push for the interests of  women  in general.  Such, for example,
can be seen in the case  of  Paula  Jones  who,  when  she  first
bravely  went  public with her accusation of having been sexually
harassed by then-Governor Bill Clinton,  was laughed at.  She was
called "trailer park trash."  What is more, the ridicule directed
at Jones first came at the  original  press  conference,  from  a
press  which  represents  and loosely belongs to the elite class.
This same press, when  flimsy  charges  of sexual harassment came
from one identified with the  upper  classes  (Anita  Hill),  was
"outraged"  --  there  was  no laughing then.  In "Silence of the
Beltway Feminists"  (New  York  Times,  Jan.  17,  1997), Barbara
Ehrenreich calls the class  bias  in  the  Jones  case  "American
feminism's darkest hour." 
Clothing and the Pecuniary Culture
Expenditures on clothing put one's pecuniary standing in evidence
most effectually.  Our apparel is always in evidence and gives an
indication  of  our  pecuniary standing to all observers at first
glance.  The greater  part  of  the  expenditure  incurred by all
classes for apparel is incurred for the  sake  of  a  respectable
appearance  rather  than  for  the protection of the person.  The
commercial value of the goods used  for  clothing is made up to a
much larger extent of the fashionableness,  the  reputability  of
the  goods than of the mechanical service they render in clothing
the wearer. 
The function of dress as an  evidence  of ability to pay does not
end with simply showing that the wearer consumes  valuable  goods
in  excess  of  what is required for physical comfort.  Dress has
subtler possibilities:  it can also  show  that the wearer is not
of the lower, industrious class.  A detailed examination of  what
passes in popular apprehension for elegant apparel will show that
it  is contrived at every point to convey the impression that the
wearer does not habitually put  forth any useful effort.  It goes
without saying that no apparel can be considered  elegant  if  it
shows  the  effect  of manual labor on the part of the wearer, in
the way of soil  or  wear.   Much  of  the charm that invests the
patent  leather  shoe,  the   stainless   linen,   the   lustrous
cylindrical  hat,  and the walking stick comes of their pointedly
suggesting that  the  wearer  cannot  when  so  attired engage in
industrial employments.  So too with the  modern  suit  and  tie:
silly  clothing  that  soils  and  tears  easily,  but  proclaims
distance from vulgar employments by its very impracticability.
The  dress of women goes even farther than that of men in the way
of  demonstrating   the   wearer's   abstinence  from  productive
employment.  The woman's shoe adds  the  so-called  French  heel,
because  this high heel obviously makes any manual work extremely
difficult.  The like is true  of  the  skirt  and the rest of the
drapery  which  characterises  woman's  dress.   The  substantial
reason  for  the  skirt  is  that  it  hampers  the  wearer   and
incapacitates  her  for all useful exertion.  The like is true of
the  feminine  custom  of  wearing  the  hair  excessively  long.
Women's wear also adds a  peculiar  feature from that of the men:
changing fashions.  If each garment serves for only a brief time,
that equals  consumption  in  excess  of  what  is  required  for
physical  comfort.   Purpose?  To show, by vicarious consumption,
that the wife's owner is well-to-do. 
Modern Survivals of Prowess
The elite class lives by the  industrial class rather than in it.
Admission to the  elite  class  is  gained  by  exercise  of  the
pecuniary  aptitudes -- aptitudes for acquisition rather than for
serviceability.  The scheme of life of the class is in large part
a heritage from the  past,  and  embodies  much of the habits and
ideals of the earlier predatory culture.  The enthusiasm for war,
and the predatory temper of which it is the index, prevail in the
largest  measure  among  the  upper   classes.    Moreover,   the
ostensible  serious  occupation  of  the  upper  class is that of
government, which, in point  of origin and developmental content,
is also a predatory occupation.  Government  is  an  exercise  of
control  and  coercion  over  the population from which the elite
class draws its sustenance. 
Manifestations of the predatory temperament include sports of all
kinds.   Sports  shade  off  from  the  basis  of hostile combat,
through  skill,  to  cunning  and  chicanery,  without  its being
possible to draw a line at  any  point.   Addiction  to  athletic
sports,  either directly or vicariously, is characteristic of the
elite class; and it is a  trait  which that class shares with the
lower-class  delinquents,  and  with  such   atavistic   elements
throughout  the  body  of  the  community  as  are endowed with a
dominant predaceous trend.  Of  course, few individuals among the
populations of Western civilised countries are so far  devoid  of
the  predaceous instinct as to find no diversion in contemplating
athletic sports and games.
As it finds expression in the  life  of  the  barbarian,  prowess
manifests  itself  in  two main directions:  force and fraud.  In
varying degrees  these  two  forms  of  expression  are similarly
present in modern  warfare,  in  the  pecuniary  occupations,  in
sports  and  games, and in politics.  In all of these employments
strategy tends to develop into finesse and chicane. 
The two barbarian traits, ferocity and cunning, go to make up the
predaceous temper.  Both  are  highly  serviceable for individual
expediency in a life looking  to  invidious  success.   Both  are
fostered by the pecuniary culture. 
The Town
(Notes from *Absentee Ownership and Business Enterprise in Recent
Times:  The Case of America* by Thorstein Veblen (1923)).
The location of any  given  town  has commonly been determined by
collusion between "interested parties" with a view to speculation
in real estate.  The town continues basically as  a  real  estate
"proposition."   Its  municipal  affairs,  its  civic  pride, its
community interest, converge upon  its  real estate values, which
are invariably of a speculative  character,  and  which  all  its
loyal  citizens  are  intent  on  "booming" and "boosting."  Real
estate is the one community interest that binds the townsmen with
a  common  bond;  and   it   is  highly  significant  that  those
inhabitants of the town who have no holdings of real  estate  and
who  never  hope  to  have any will commonly also do their little
best to inflate the  speculative  values  by adding the clamor of
their unpaid chorus  to  the  paid  clamor  of  the  professional
publicity agents. 
Real  estate  is  an  enterprise  in  "futures,"  designed to get
something for nothing from the  unwary.  Townsmen are pilgrims of
hope looking forward to the time when the  community's  advancing
needs will enable them to realize on the inflated values of their
real  estate, or looking more immediately to the chance that some
sucker may be so ill advised  as  to  take them at their word and
become their debtors  in  the  amount  which  they say their real
estate is worth.
The  town  is  a  retail  trading-station,  where farm produce is
bought and farm  supplies  are  sold,  and  there are always more
traders than are necessary to take care  of  this  retail  trade.
There  is always more or less active competition between traders,
often underhanded.  But  this  does  not hinder collusion between
the competitors  with  a  view  to  maintain  and  augment  their
collective hold on the trade with their farm population. 
From  an early point in the life-history of such a town collusion
habitually  becomes  the  rule,  and  there  is  commonly  a well
recognized ethical code of  collusion  governing  the  style  and
limits  of  competitive  maneuvers.   In  effect, the competition
among  business  concerns  is  kept  well  in  hand  by  a common
understanding, and the traders as a body direct their  collective
efforts  to  getting  what  can be got out of the underlying farm
population.  Harking back to  the earlier distinction between the
so-called vulgar, industrial  employments  and  the  elite  class
pecuniary  employments,  it  can be seen how the elite, predatory
class exploits  the  industrial  class  by  means  of cunning and
Toward the close of the 19th century, and increasingly since  the
turn of the century, the trading community of the small towns has
by  degrees  become  tributary to the great vested interests that
move in the background of the  market.   In a way the small towns
have fallen  into  the  position  of  tollgate  keepers  for  the
distribution  of  goods  and  collection of customs for the large
absentee owners  of  the  business.   Grocers,  hardware dealers,
meat-markets,  druggists,   shoe-shops,   are   more   and   more
extensively  falling  into the position of local distributors for
jobbing  houses  and  manufacturers.   They  increasingly  handle
"package goods"  bearing  the  brand  name  of  some (ostensible)
maker,  whose  chief  connection  with  the  goods  is  that   of
advertiser  of  the  copyright  brand which appears on the label.
The bankers work by  affiliation  with  and under surveillance of
their correspondents  in  the  sub-centers  of  credit,  who  are
similarly  tied  in  under  the  credit routine of the associated
banking houses in the great centers. 
All this reduction of the  retailers  to  simpler terms has by no
means lowered the overhead charges of the retail  trade  as  they
bear  upon  the  underlying  farm population; rather the reverse.
Inasmuch as their principals back  in  the jungle of Big Business
cut into the initiative and the margins  of  the  retailers  with
"package  goods,"  brands, advertising, and agency contracts, the
retailers are provoked to retaliate  and recoup where they see an
opening  --  that  is,  at  the  cost  of  the  underlying   farm
The town and the business of its  substantial  citizens  are  and
have  ever  been an enterprise in salesmanship; and the beginning
of wisdom in salesmanship is  equivocation.   The rule of life in
the town's salesmanship is summed up in what the older  logicians
have  called  suppressio  veri et suggestio falsi (suppress truth
and  suggest  the   false).    One   must   eschew  opinions,  or
information, which are not acceptable to the common run of  those
who  have  or  may conceivably come to have any commercial value.
The town is reactionary;  aggressively  and truculently so, since
any assertion or denial that runs counter to any appreciable  set
of  respectable  prejudices  would  come  in  for  some degree of
disfavor, and any degree of  disfavor is intolerable to men whose
business would presumably  suffer  from  it.   But  there  is  no
(business)  harm  done  in assenting to, and so in time coming to
believe in, any or  all  of  the  commonplaces  of the day before
yesterday.   In  this  way,  the  truth   eventually   does   get
acknowledged,  though  it  may  take decades or centuries.  (This
principle is seen,  for  example,  when  Larry  Nichols was going
public with information he had on Bill Clinton  et  al.   Nichols
was reportedly contacted by Wall Street types who urged him to be
quiet for fear that the dollar-yen ratio might suffer.)
"Veblen," (writes Max Lerner  in  his Editors Introduction to The
Portable Veblen) "had been writing not of the social  aristocracy
but  of  the  business power-group of the middle class which aped
the  ways  of  an   aristocracy...    When  he  used  terms  like
'barbarian' and 'predatory,' they were  synonyms  for  'business'
and  'capitalist.' ... when he spoke of the head of the household
who dressed his wife and  daughters with a conspicuous display of
waste consumption,  kept  his  sons  at  archaic  studies,  hired
servants  as  vicarious signs of his leisure, kept a large number
of people uselessly engaged  in  devout observances, took part in
sports whose principal elements were guile, fraud, and predation,
surrounded himself with subservient animals,  and  organized  his
whole  world  to  show off his prowess:  of all this Veblen might
have said to his  American  era  --  de  te  fabula [of you it is
spoken]."  Veblen saw  conventional  economics  as  a  system  of
apologetics  for  the going system of economic power.  He thought
that  each  new   batch   of   economists   merely  accepted  the
preconceptions of the previous economists,  built  on  them,  and
enabled the idea that wealth and poverty were part of the fitness
of things, a sort of natural selection.
Yet  what  sort  of "natural selection" rewards fraud, predation,
and  chicanery  and  punishes  useful  industry?   What  sort  of
"natural  selection"  rewards   pecuniary   predators  and  their