Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Theory of the Leisure Class* by Thorstein Veblen

Part 5 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

On the other hand, an anthropomorphic cult is a code of detailed
relations of status superimposed upon the concept of a
preternatural, inscrutable propensity in material things. So
that, as regards the external facts of its derivation, the cult
may be taken as an outgrowth of archaic man's pervading animistic
sense, defined and in some degree transformed by the predatory
habit of life, the result being a personified preternatural
agency, which is by imputation endowed with a full complement of
the habits of thought that characterize the man of the predatory

The grosser psychological features in the case, which have an
immediate bearing on economic theory and are consequently to be
taken account of here, are therefore: (a) as has appeared in an
earlier chapter, the predatory, emulative habit of mind here
called prowess is but the barbarian variant of the generically
human instinct of workmanship, which has fallen into this
specific form under the guidance of a habit of invidious
comparison of persons; (b) the relation of status is a formal
expression of such an invidious comparison duly gauged and graded
according to a sanctioned schedule; (c) an anthropomorphic cult,
in the days of its early vigor at least, is an institution the
characteristic element of which is a relation of status between
the human subject as inferior and the personified preternatural
agency as superior. With this in mind, there should be no
difficulty in recognizing the intimate relation which subsists
between these three phenomena of human nature and of human life;
the relation amounts to an identity in some of their substantial
elements. On the one hand, the system of status and the predatory
habit of life are an expression of the instinct of workmanship as
it takes form under a custom of invidious comparison; on the
other hand, the anthropomorphic cult and the habit of devout
observances are an expression of men's animistic sense of a
propensity in material things, elaborated under the guidance of
substantially the same general habit of invidious comparison. The
two categories -- the emulative habit of life and the habit of
devout observances -- are therefore to be taken as complementary
elements of the barbarian type of human nature and of its modern
barbarian variants. They are expressions of much the same range
of aptitudes, made in response to different sets of stimuli.

Chapter Twelve

Devout Observances

A discoursive rehearsal of certain incidents of modern life will
show the organic relation of the anthropomorphic cults to the
barbarian culture and temperament. It will likewise serve to show
how the survival and efficacy of the cults and he prevalence of
their schedule of devout observances are related to the
institution of a leisure class and to the springs of action
underlying that institution. Without any intention to commend or
to deprecate the practices to be spoken of under the head of
devout observances, or the spiritual and intellectual traits of
which these observances are the expression, the everyday
phenomena of current anthropomorphic cults may be taken up from
the point of view of the interest which they have for economic
theory. What can properly be spoken of here are the tangible,
external features of devout observances. The moral, as well as
the devotional value of the life of faith lies outside of the
scope of the present inquiry. Of course no question is here
entertained as to the truth or beauty of the creeds on which the
cults proceed. And even their remoter economic bearing can not be
taken up here; the subject is too recondite and of too grave
import to find a place in so slight a sketch.

Something has been said in an earlier chapter as to the influence
which pecuniary standards of value exert upon the processes of
valuation carried out on other bases, not related to the
pecuniary interest. The relation is not altogether one-sided. The
economic standards or canons of valuation are in their turn
influenced by extra-economic standards of value. Our judgments of
the economic bearing of facts are to some extent shaped by the
dominant presence of these weightier interests. There is a point
of view, indeed, from which the economic interest is of weight
only as being ancillary to these higher, non-economic interests.
For the present purpose, therefore, some thought must be taken to
isolate the economic interest or the economic hearing of these
phenomena of anthropomorphic cults. It takes some effort to
divest oneself of the more serious point of view, and to reach an
economic appreciation of these facts, with as little as may be of
the bias due to higher interests extraneous to economic theory.
In the discussion of the sporting temperament, it has
appeared that the sense of an animistic propensity in material
things and events is what affords the spiritual basis of the
sporting man's gambling habit. For the economic purpose, this
sense of propensity is substantially the same psychological
element as expresses itself, under a variety of forms, in
animistic beliefs and anthropomorphic creeds. So far as concerns
those tangible psychological features with which economic theory
has to deal, the gambling spirit which pervades the sporting
element shades off by insensible gradations into that frame of
mind which finds gratification in devout observances. As seen
from the point of view of economic theory, the sporting character
shades off into the character of a religious devotee. Where the
betting man's animistic sense is helped out by a somewhat
consistent tradition, it has developed into a more or less
articulate belief in a preternatural or hyperphysical agency,
with something of an anthropomorphic content. And where this is
the case, there is commonly a perceptible inclination to make
terms with the preternatural agency by some approved method of
approach and conciliation. This element of propitiation and
cajoling has much in common with the crasser forms of worship --
if not in historical derivation, at least in actual psychological
content. It obviously shades off in unbroken continuity into what
is recognized as superstitious practice and belief, and so
asserts its claim to kinship with the grosser anthropomorphic

The sporting or gambling temperament, then, comprises some of the
substantial psychological elements that go to make a believer in
creeds and an observer of devout forms, the chief point of
coincidence being the belief in an inscrutable propensity or a
preternatural interposition in the sequence of events. For the
purpose of the gambling practice the belief in preternatural
agency may be, and ordinarily is, less closely formulated,
especially as regards the habits of thought and the scheme of
life imputed to the preternatural agent; or, in other words, as
regards his moral character and his purposes in interfering in
events. With respect to the individuality or personality of the
agency whose presence as luck, or chance, or hoodoo, or mascot,
etc., he feels and sometimes dreads and endeavors to evade, the
sporting man's views are also less specific, less integrated and
differentiated. The basis of his gambling activity is, in great
measure, simply an instinctive sense of the presence of a
pervasive extraphysical and arbitrary force or propensity in
things or situations, which is scarcely recognized as a personal
agent. The betting man is not infrequently both a believer in
luck, in this naive sense, and at the same time a pretty staunch
adherent of some form of accepted creed. He is especially prone
to accept so much of the creed as concerts the inscrutable power
and the arbitrary habits of the divinity which has won his
confidence. In such a case he is possessed of two, or sometimes
more than two, distinguishable phases of animism. Indeed, the
complete series of successive phases of animistic belief is to be
found unbroken in the spiritual furniture of any sporting
community. Such a chain of animistic conceptions will comprise
the most elementary form of an instinctive sense of luck and
chance and fortuitous necessity at one end of the series,
together with the perfectly developed anthropomorphic divinity at
the other end, with all intervening stages of integration.
Coupled with these beliefs in preternatural agency goes an
instinctive shaping of conduct to conform with the surmised
requirements of the lucky chance on the one hand, and a more or
less devout submission to the inscrutable decrees of the divinity
on the other hand.

There is a relationship in this respect between the sporting
temperament and the temperament of the delinquent classes; and
the two are related to the temperament which inclines to an
anthropomorphic cult. Both the delinquent and the sporting man
are on the average more apt to be adherents of some accredited
creed, and are also rather more inclined to devout observances,
than the general average of the community. It is also noticeable
that unbelieving members of these classes show more of a
proclivity to become proselytes to some accredited faith than the
average of unbelievers. This fact of observation is avowed by the
spokesmen of sports, especially in apologizing for the more
naively predatory athletic sports. Indeed, it is somewhat
insistently claimed as a meritorious feature of sporting life
that the habitual participants in athletic games are in some
degree peculiarly given to devout practices. And it is observable
that the cult to which sporting men and the predaceous delinquent
classes adhere, or to which proselytes from these classes
commonly attach themselves, is ordinarily not one of the
so-called higher faiths, but a cult which has to do with a
thoroughly anthropomorphic divinity. Archaic, predatory human
nature is not satisfied with abstruse conceptions of a dissolving
personality that shades off into the concept of quantitative
causal sequence, such as the speculative, esoteric creeds of
Christendom impute to the First Cause, Universal Intelligence,
World Soul, or Spiritual Aspect. As an instance of a cult of the
character which the habits of mind of the athlete and the
delinquent require, may be cited that branch of the church
militant known as the Salvation Army. This is to some extent
recruited from the lower-class delinquents, and it appears to
comprise also, among its officers especially, a larger proportion
of men with a sporting record than the proportion of such men in
the aggregate population of the community.

College athletics afford a case in point. It is contended by
exponents of the devout element in college life -- and there
seems to be no ground for disputing the claim -- that the
desirable athletic material afforded by any student body in this
country is at the same time predominantly religious; or that it
is at least given to devout observances to a greater degree than
the average of those students whose interest in athletics and
other college sports is less. This is what might be expected on
theoretical grounds. It may be remarked, by the way, that from
one point of view this is felt to reflect credit on the college
sporting life, on athletic games, and on those persons who occupy
themselves with these matters. It happens not frequently that
college sporting men devote themselves to religious propaganda,
either as a vocation or as a by-occupation; and it is observable
that when this happens they are likely to become propagandists of
some one of the more anthropomorphic cults. In their teaching
they are apt to insist chiefly on the personal relation of status
which subsists between an anthropomorphic divinity and the human

This intimate relation between athletics and devout
observance among college men is a fact of sufficient notoriety;
but it has a special feature to which attention has not been
called, although it is obvious enough. The religious zeal which
pervades much of the college sporting element is especially prone
to express itself in an unquestioning devoutness and a naive and
complacent submission to an inscrutable Providence. It therefore
by preference seeks affliation with some one of those lay
religious organizations which occupy themselves with the spread
of the exoteric forms of faith -- as, e.g., the Young Men's
Christian Association or the Young People's Society for Christian
Endeavor. These lay bodies are organized to further "practical"
religion; and as if to enforce the argument and firmly establish
the close relationship between the sporting temperament and the
archaic devoutness, these lay religious bodies commonly devote
some appreciable portion of their energies to the furtherance of
athletic contests and similar games of chance and skill. It might
even be said that sports of this kind are apprehended to have
some efficacy as a means of grace. They are apparently useful as
a means of proselyting, and as a means of sustaining the devout
attitude in converts once made. That is to say, the games which
give exercise to the animistic sense and to the emulative
propensity help to form and to conserve that habit of mind to
which the more exoteric cults are congenial. Hence, in the hands
of the lay organizations, these sporting activities come to do
duty as a novitiate or a means of induction into that fuller
unfolding of the life of spiritual status which is the privilege
of the full communicant along.

That the exercise of the emulative and lower animistic
proclivities are substantially useful for the devout purpose
seems to be placed beyond question by the fact that the
priesthood of many denominations is following the lead of the lay
organizations in this respect. Those ecclesiastical organizations
especially which stand nearest the lay organizations in their
insistence on practical religion have gone some way towards
adopting these or analogous practices in connection with the
traditional devout observances. So there are "boys' brigades,"
and other organizations, under clerical sanction, acting to
develop the emulative proclivity and the sense of status in the
youthful members of the congregation. These pseudo-military
organizations tend to elaborate and accentuate the proclivity to
emulation and invidious comparison, and so strengthen the native
facility for discerning and approving the relation of personal
mastery and subservience. And a believer is eminently a person
who knows how to obey and accept chastisement with good grace.
But the habits of thought which these practices foster and
conserve make up but one half of the substance of the
anthropomorphic cults. The other, complementary element of devout
life -- the animistic habit of mind -- is recruited and conserved
by a second range of practices organized under clerical sanction.
These are the class of gambling practices of which the church
bazaar or raffle may be taken as the type. As indicating the
degree of legitimacy of these practices in connection with devout
observances proper, it is to be remarked that these raffles, and
the like trivial opportunities for gambling, seem to appeal with
more effect to the common run of the members of religious
organizations than they do to persons of a less devout habit of

All this seems to argue, on the one hand, that the same
temperament inclines people to sports as inclines them to the
anthropomorphic cults, and on the other hand that the habituation
to sports, perhaps especially to athletic sports, acts to develop
the propensities which find satisfaction in devout observances.
Conversely; it also appears that habituation to these observances
favors the growth of a proclivity for athletic sports and for all
games that give play to the habit of invidious comparison and of
the appeal to luck. Substantially the same range of propensities
finds expression in both these directions of the spiritual life.
That barbarian human nature in which the predatory instinct and
the animistic standpoint predominate is normally prone to both.
The predatory habit of mind involves an accentuated sense of
personal dignity and of the relative standing of individuals. The
social structure in which the predatory habit has been the
dominant factor in the shaping of institutions is a structure
based on status. The pervading norm in the predatory community's
scheme of life is the relation of superior and inferior, noble
and base, dominant and subservient persons and classes, master
and slave. The anthropomorphic cults have come down from that
stage of industrial development and have been shaped by the same
scheme of economic differentiation -- a differentiation into
consumer and producer -- and they are pervaded by the same
dominant principle of mastery and subservience. The cults impute
to their divinity the habits of thought answering to the stage of
economic differentiation at which the cults took shape. The
anthropomorphic divinity is conceived to be punctilious in all
questions of precedence and is prone to an assertion of mastery
and an arbitrary exercise of power -- an habitual resort to force
as the final arbiter.

In the later and maturer formulations of the anthropomorphic
creed this imputed habit of dominance on the part of a divinity
of awful presence and inscrutable power is chastened into "the
fatherhood of God." The spiritual attitude and the aptitudes
imputed to the preternatural agent are still such as belong under
the regime of status, but they now assume the patriarchal cast
characteristic of the quasi-peaceable stage of culture. Still it
is to be noted that even in this advanced phase of the cult the
observances in which devoutness finds expression consistently aim
to propitiate the divinity by extolling his greatness and glory
and by professing subservience and fealty. The act of
propitiation or of worship is designed to appeal to a sense of
status imputed to the inscrutable power that is thus approached.
The propitiatory formulas most in vogue are still such as carry
or imply an invidious comparison. A loyal attachment to the
person of an anthropomorphic divinity endowed with such an
archaic human nature implies the like archaic propensities in the
devotee. For the purposes of economic theory, the relation of
fealty, whether to a physical or to an extraphysical person, is
to be taken as a variant of that personal subservience which
makes up so large a share of the predatory and the
quasi-peaceable scheme of life.

The barbarian conception of the divinity, as a warlike chieftain
inclined to an overbearing manner of government, has been greatly
softened through the milder manners and the soberer habits of
life that characterize those cultural phases which lie between
the early predatory stage and the present. But even after this
chastening of the devout fancy, and the consequent mitigation of
the harsher traits of conduct and character that are currently
imputed to the divinity, there still remains in the popular
apprehension of the divine nature and temperament a very
substantial residue of the barbarian conception. So it comes
about, for instance, that in characterizing the divinity and his
relations to the process of human life, speakers and writers are
still able to make effective use of similes borrowed from the
vocabulary of war and of the predatory manner of life, as well as
of locutions which involve an invidious comparison. Figures of
speech of this import are used with good effect even in
addressing the less warlike modern audiences, made up of
adherents of the blander variants of the creed. This effective
use of barbarian epithets and terms of comparison by popular
speakers argues that the modern generation has retained a lively
appreciation of the dignity and merit of the barbarian virtues;
and it argues also that there is a degree of congruity between
the devout attitude and the predatory habit of mind. It is only
on second thought, if at all, that the devout fancy of modern
worshippers revolts at the imputation of ferocious and vengeful
emotions and actions to the object of their adoration. It is a
matter of common observation that sanguinary epithets applied to
the divinity have a high aesthetic and honorific value in the
popular apprehension. That is to say, suggestions which these
epithets carry are very acceptable to our unreflecting

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

The guiding habits of thought of a devout person move on the
plane of an archaic scheme of life which has outlived much of its
usefulness for the economic exigencies of the collective life of
today. In so far as the economic organization fits the exigencies
of the collective life of today, it has outlived the regime of
status, and has no use and no place for a relation of personal
subserviency. So far as concerns the economic efficiency of the
community, the sentiment of personal fealty, and the general
habit of mind of which that sentiment is an expression, are
survivals which cumber the ground and hinder an adequate
adjustment of human institutions to the existing situation. The
habit of mind which best lends itself to the purposes of a
peaceable, industrial community, is that matter-of-fact temper
which recognizes the value of material facts simply as opaque
items in the mechanical sequence. It is that frame of mind which
does not instinctively impute an animistic propensity to things,
nor resort to preternatural intervention as an explanation of
perplexing phenomena, nor depend on an unseen hand to shape the
course of events to human use. To meet the requirements of the
highest economic efficiency under modern conditions, the world
process must habitually be apprehended in terms of quantitative,
dispassionate force and sequence.

As seen from the point of view of the later economic
exigencies, devoutness is, perhaps in all cases, to be looked
upon as a survival from an earlier phase of associated life -- a
mark of arrested spiritual development. Of course it remains true
that in a community where the economic structure is still
substantially a system of status; where the attitude of the
average of persons in the community is consequently shaped by and
adapted to the relation of personal dominance and personal
subservience; or where for any other reason -- of tradition or of
inherited aptitude -- the population as a whole is strongly
inclined to devout observances; there a devout habit of mind in
any individual, not in excess of the average of the community,
must be taken simply as a detail of the prevalent habit of life.
In this light, a devout individual in a devout community can not
be called a case of reversion, since he is abreast of the average
of the community. But as seen from the point of view of the
modern industrial situation, exceptional devoutness -- devotional
zeal that rises appreciably above the average pitch of devoutness
in the community -- may safely be set down as in all cases an
atavistic trait.

It is, of course, equally legitimate to consider these phenomena
from a different point of view. They may be appreciated for a
different purpose, and the characterization here offered may be
turned about. In speaking from the point of view of the
devotional interest, or the interest of devout taste, it may,
with equal cogency, be said that the spiritual attitude bred in
men by the modern industrial life is unfavorable to a free
development of the life of faith. It might fairly be objected to
the later development of the industrial process that its
discipline tends to "materialism," to the elimination of filial
piety. From the aesthetic point of view, again, something to a
similar purport might be said. But, however legitimate and
valuable these and the like reflections may be for their purpose,
they would not be in place in the present inquiry, which is
exclusively concerned with the valuation of these phenomena from
the economic point of view.

The grave economic significance of the anthropomorphic habit of
mind and of the addiction to devout observances must serve as
apology for speaking further on a topic which it can not but be
distasteful to discuss at all as an economic phenomenon in a
community so devout as ours. Devout observances are of economic
importance as an index of a concomitant variation of temperament,
accompanying the predatory habit of mind and so indicating the
presence of industrially disserviceable traits. They indicate the
presence of a mental attitude which has a certain economic value
of its own by virtue of its influence upon the industrial
serviceability of the individual. But they are also of importance
more directly, in modifying the economic activities of the
community, especially as regards the distribution and consumption
of goods.

The most obvious economic bearing of these observances is seen in
the devout consumption of goods and services. The
consumption of ceremonial paraphernalia required by any cult, in
the way of shrines, temples, churches, vestments, sacrifices,
sacraments, holiday attire, etc., serves no immediate material
end. All this material apparatus may, therefore, without implying
deprecation, be broadly characterized as items of conspicuous
waste. The like is true in a general way of the personal service
consumed under this head; such as priestly education, priestly
service, pilgrimages, fasts, holidays, household devotions, and
the like. At the same time the observances in the execution of
which this consumption takes place serve to extend and protract
the vogue of those habits of thought on which an anthropomorphic
cult rests. That is to say, they further the habits of thought
characteristic of the regime of status. They are in so far an
obstruction to the most effective organization of industry under
modern circumstances; and are, in the first instance,
antagonistic to the development of economic institutions in the
direction required by the situation of today. For the present
purpose, the indirect as well as the direct effects of this
consumption are of the nature of a curtailment of the community's
economic efficiency. In economic theory, then, and considered in
its proximate consequences, the consumption of goods and effort
in the service of an anthropomorphic divinity means a lowering of
the vitality of the community. What may be the remoter, indirect,
moral effects of this class of consumption does not admit of a
succinct answer, and it is a question which can not be taken up

It will be to the point, however, to note the general economic
character of devout consumption, in comparison with consumption
for other purposes. An indication of the range of motives and
purposes from which devout consumption of goods proceeds will
help toward an appreciation of the value both of this consumption
itself and of the general habit of mind to which it is congenial.
There is a striking parallelism, if not rather a substantial
identity of motive, between the consumption which goes to the
service of an anthropomorphic divinity and that which goes to the
service of a gentleman of leisure chieftain or patriarch -- in
the upper class of society during the barbarian culture. Both in
the case of the chieftain and in that of the divinity there are
expensive edifices set apart for the behoof of the person served.
These edifices, as well as the properties which supplement them
in the service, must not be common in kind or grade; they always
show a large element of conspicuous waste. It may also be noted
that the devout edifices are invariably of an archaic cast in
their structure and fittings. So also the servants, both of the
chieftain and of the divinity, must appear in the presence
clothed in garments of a special, ornate character. The
characteristic economic feature of this apparel is a more than
ordinarily accentuated conspicuous waste, together with the
secondary feature -- more accentuated in the case of the priestly
servants than in that of the servants or courtiers of the
barbarian potentate -- that this court dress must always be in
some degree of an archaic fashion. Also the garments worn by the
lay members of the community when they come into the presence,
should be of a more expensive kind than their everyday apparel.
Here, again, the parallelism between the usage of the chieftain's
audience hall and that of the sanctuary is fairly well marked. In
this respect there is required a certain ceremonial "cleanness"
of attire, the essential feature of which, in the economic
respect, is that the garments worn on these occasions should
carry as little suggestion as may be of any industrial occupation
or of any habitual addiction to such employments as are of
material use.

This requirement of conspicuous waste and of ceremonial cleanness
from the traces of industry extends also to the apparel, and in a
less degree to the food, which is consumed on sacred holidays;
that is to say, on days set apart -- tabu -- for the divinity or
for some member of the lower ranks of the preternatural leisure
class. In economic theory, sacred holidays are obviously to be
construed as a season of vicarious leisure performed for the
divinity or saint in whose name the tabu is imposed and to whose
good repute the abstention from useful effort on these days is
conceived to inure. The characteristic feature of all such
seasons of devout vicarious leisure is a more or less rigid tabu
on all activity that is of human use. In the case of fast-days
the conspicuous abstention from gainful occupations and from all
pursuits that (materially) further human life is further
accentuated by compulsory abstinence from such consumption as
would conduce to the comfort or the fullness of life of the

It may be remarked, parenthetically, that secular holidays are of
the same origin, by slightly remoter derivation. They shade off
by degrees from the genuinely sacred days, through an
intermediate class of semi-sacred birthdays of kings and great
men who have been in some measure canonized, to the deliberately
invented holiday set apart to further the good repute of some
notable event or some striking fact, to which it is intended to
do honor, or the good fame of which is felt to be in need of
repair. The remoter refinement in the employment of vicarious
leisure as a means of augmenting the good repute of a phenomenon
or datum is seen at its best in its very latest application. A
day of vicarious leisure has in some communities been set apart
as Labor Day. This observance is designed to augment the prestige
of the fact of labor, by the archaic, predatory method of a
compulsory abstention from useful effort. To this datum of
labor-in-general is imputed the good repute attributable to the
pecuniary strength put in evidence by abstaining from labor.
Sacred holidays, and holidays generally, are of the nature of a
tribute levied on the body of the people. The tribute is paid in
vicarious leisure, and the honorific effect which emerges is
imputed to the person or the fact for whose good repute the
holiday has been instituted. Such a tithe of vicarious leisure is
a perquisite of all members of the preternatural leisure class
and is indispensable to their good fame. Un saint qu'on ne chôme
pas is indeed a saint fallen on evil days.

Besides this tithe of vicarious leisure levied on the laity,
there are also special classes of persons -- the various grades
of priests and hierodules -- whose time is wholly set apart for a
similar service. It is not only incumbent on the priestly class
to abstain from vulgar labor, especially so far as it is
lucrative or is apprehended to contribute to the temporal
well-being of mankind. The tabu in the case of the priestly class
goes farther and adds a refinement in the form of an injunction
against their seeking worldly gain even where it may be had
without debasing application to industry. It is felt to be
unworthy of the servant of the divinity, or rather unworthy the
dignity of the divinity whose servant he is, that he should seek
material gain or take thought for temporal matters. "Of all
contemptible things a man who pretends to be a priest of God and
is a priest to his own comforts and ambitions is the most
contemptible." There is a line of discrimination, which a
cultivated taste in matters of devout observance finds little
difficulty in drawing, between such actions and conduct as
conduce to the fullness of human life and such as conduce to the
good fame of the anthropomorphic divinity; and the activity of
the priestly class, in the ideal barbarian scheme, falls wholly
on the hither side of this line. What falls within the range of
economics falls below the proper level of solicitude of the
priesthood in its best estate. Such apparent exceptions to this
rule as are afforded, for instance, by some of the medieval
orders of monks (the members of which actually labored to some
useful end), scarcely impugn the rule. These outlying orders of
the priestly class are not a sacerdotal element in the full sense
of the term. And it is noticeable also that these doubtfully
sacerdotal orders, which countenanced their members in earning a
living, fell into disrepute through offending the sense of
propriety in the communities where they existed.

The priest should not put his hand to mechanically
productive work; but he should consume in large measure. But even
as regards his consumption it is to be noted that it should take
such forms as do not obviously conduce to his own comfort or
fullness of life; it should conform to the rules governing
vicarious consumption, as explained under that head in an earlier
chapter. It is not ordinarily in good form for the priestly class
to appear well fed or in hilarious spirits. Indeed, in many of
the more elaborate cults the injunction against other than
vicarious consumption by this class frequently goes so far as to
enjoin mortification of the flesh. And even in those modern
denominations which have been organized under the latest
formulations of the creed, in a modern industrial community, it
is felt that all levity and avowed zest in the enjoyment of the
good things of this world is alien to the true clerical decorum.
Whatever suggests that these servants of an invisible master are
living a life, not of devotion to their master's good fame, but
of application to their own ends, jars harshly on our
sensibilities as something fundamentally and eternally wrong.
They are a servant class, although, being servants of a very
exalted master, they rank high in the social scale by virtue of
this borrowed light. Their consumption is vicarious consumption;
and since, in the advanced cults, their master has no need of
material gain, their occupation is vicarious leisure in the full
sense. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do,
do all to the glory of God." It may be added that so far as the
laity is assimilated to the priesthood in the respect that they
are conceived to be servants of the divinity. So far this imputed
vicarious character attaches also to the layman's life. The range
of application of this corollary is somewhat wide. It applies
especially to such movements for the reform or rehabilitation of
the religious life as are of an austere, pietistic, ascetic cast
-- where the human subject is conceived to hold his life by a
direct servile tenure from his spiritual sovereign. That is to
say, where the institution of the priesthood lapses, or where
there is an exceptionally lively sense of the immediate and
masterful presence of the divinity in the affairs of life, there
the layman is conceived to stand in an immediate servile relation
to the divinity, and his life is construed to be a performance of
vicarious leisure directed to the enhancement of his master's
repute. In such cases of reversion there is a return to the
unmediated relation of subservience, as the dominant fact of the
devout attitude. The emphasis is thereby throw on an austere and
discomforting vicarious leisure, to the neglect of conspicuous
consumption as a means of grace.

A doubt will present itself as to the full legitimacy of this
characterization of the sacerdotal scheme of life, on the ground
that a considerable proportion of the modern priesthood departs
from the scheme in many details. The scheme does not hold good
for the clergy of those denominations which have in some measure
diverged from the old established schedule of beliefs or
observances. These take thought, at least ostensibly or
permissively, for the temporal welfare of the laity, as well as
for their own. Their manner of life, not only in the privacy of
their own household, but often even before the public, does not
differ in an extreme degree from that of secular-minded persons,
either in its ostensible austerity or in the archaism of its
apparatus. This is truest for those denominations that have
wandered the farthest. To this objection it is to be said that we
have here to do not with a discrepancy in the theory of
sacerdotal life, but with an imperfect conformity to the scheme
on the part of this body of clergy. They are but a partial and
imperfect representative of the priesthood, and must not be taken
as exhibiting the sacerdotal scheme of life in an authentic and
competent manner. The clergy of the sects and denominations might
be characterized as a half-caste priesthood, or a priesthood in
process of becoming or of reconstitution. Such a priesthood may
be expected to show the characteristics of the sacerdotal office
only as blended and obscured with alien motives and traditions,
due to the disturbing presence of other factors than those of
animism and status in the purposes of the organizations to which
this non-conforming fraction of the priesthood belongs.

Appeal may be taken direct to the taste of any person with a
discriminating and cultivated sense of the sacerdotal
proprieties, or to the prevalent sense of what constitutes
clerical decorum in any community at all accustomed to think or
to pass criticism on what a clergyman may or may not do without
blame. Even in the most extremely secularized denominations,
there is some sense of a distinction that should be observed
between the sacerdotal and the lay scheme of life. There is no
person of sensibility but feels that where the members of this
denominational or sectarian clergy depart from traditional usage,
in the direction of a less austere or less archaic demeanor and
apparel, they are departing from the ideal of priestly decorum.
There is probably no community and no sect within the range of
the Western culture in which the bounds of permissible indulgence
are not drawn appreciably closer for the incumbent of the
priestly office than for the common layman. If the priest's own
sense of sacerdotal propriety does not effectually impose a
limit, the prevalent sense of the proprieties on the part of the
community will commonly assert itself so obtrusively as to lead
to his conformity or his retirement from office.

Few if any members of any body of clergy, it may be added, would
avowedly seek an increase of salary for gain's sake; and if such
avowal were openly made by a clergyman, it would be found
obnoxious to the sense of propriety among his congregation. It
may also be noted in this connection that no one but the scoffers
and the very obtuse are not instinctively grieved inwardly at a
jest from the pulpit; and that there are none whose respect for
their pastor does not suffer through any mark of levity on his
part in any conjuncture of life, except it be levity of a
palpably histrionic kind -- a constrained unbending of dignity.
The diction proper to the sanctuary and to the priestly office
should also carry little if any suggestion of effective everyday
life, and should not draw upon the vocabulary of modern trade or
industry. Likewise, one's sense of the proprieties is readily
offended by too detailed and intimate a handling of industrial
and other purely human questions at the hands of the clergy.
There is a certain level of generality below which a cultivated
sense of the proprieties in homiletical discourse will not permit
a well-bred clergyman to decline in his discussion of temporal
interests. These matters that are of human and secular
consequence simply, should properly be handled with such a degree
of generality and aloofness as may imply that the speaker
represents a master whose interest in secular affairs goes only
so far as to permissively countenance them.

It is further to be noticed that the non-conforming sects and
variants whose priesthood is here under discussion, vary among
themselves in the degree of their conformity to the ideal scheme
of sacerdotal life. In a general way it will be found that the
divergence in this respect is widest in the case of the
relatively young denominations, and especially in the case of
such of the newer denominations as have chiefly a lower
middle-class constituency. They commonly show a large admixture
of humanitarian, philanthropic, or other motives which can not be
classed as expressions of the devotional attitude; such as the
desire of learning or of conviviality, which enter largely into
the effective interest shown by members of these organizations.
The non-conforming or sectarian movements have commonly proceeded
from a mixture of motives, some of which are at variance with
that sense of status on which the priestly office rests.
Sometimes, indeed, the motive has been in good part a revulsion
against a system of status. Where this is the case the
institution of the priesthood has broken down in the transition,
at least partially. The spokesman of such an organization is at
the outset a servant and representative of the organization,
rather than a member of a special priestly class and the
spokesman of a divine master. And it is only by a process of
gradual specialization that, in succeeding generations, this
spokesman regains the position of priest, with a full investiture
of sacerdotal authority, and with its accompanying austere,
archaic and vicarious manner of life. The like is true of the
breakdown and redintegration of devout ritual after such a
revulsion. The priestly office, the scheme of sacerdotal life,
and the schedule of devout observances are rehabilitated only
gradually, insensibly, and with more or less variation in
details, as a persistent human sense of devout propriety
reasserts its primacy in questions touching the interest in the
preternatural -- and it may be added, as the organization
increases in wealth, and so acquires more of the point of view
and the habits of thought of a leisure class.

Beyond the priestly class, and ranged in an ascending
hierarchy,ordinarily comes a superhuman vicarious leisure class
of saints, angels, etc. -- or their equivalents in the ethnic
cults. These rise in grade, one above another, according to
elaborate system of status. The principle of status runs through
the entire hierarchical system, both visible and invisible. The
good fame of these several orders of the supernatural hierarchy
also commonly requires a certain tribute of vicarious consumption
and vicarious leisure. In many cases they accordingly have
devoted to their service sub-orders of attendants or dependents
who perform a vicarious leisure for them, after much the same
fashion as was found in an earlier chapter to be true of the
dependent leisure class under the patriarchal system.

It may not appear without reflection how these devout observances
and the peculiarity of temperament which they imply, or the
consumption of goods and services which is comprised in the cult,
stand related to the leisure class of a modern community, or to
the economic motives of which that class is the exponent in the
modern scheme of life to this end a summary review of certain
facts bearing on this relation will be useful. It appears from an
earlier passage in this discussion that for the purpose of the
collective life of today, especially so far as concerns the
industrial efficiency of the modern community, the characteristic
traits of the devout temperament are a hindrance rather than a
help. It should accordingly be found that the modern industrial
life tends selectively to eliminate these traits of human nature
from the spiritual constitution of the classes that are
immediately engaged in the industrial process. It should hold
true, approximately, that devoutness is declining or tending to
obsolescence among the members of what may be called the
effective industrial community. At the same time it should appear
that this aptitude or habit survives in appreciably greater vigor
among those classes which do not immediately or primarily enter
into the community's life process as an industrial factor.

It has already been pointed out that these latter classes, which
live by, rather than in, the industrial process, are roughly
comprised under two categories (1) the leisure class proper,
which is shielded from the stress of the economic situation; and
(2) the indigent classes, including the lower-class delinquents,
which are unduly exposed to the stress. In the case of the former
class an archaic habit of mind persists because no effectual
economic pressure constrains this class to an adaptation of its
habits of thought to the changing situation; while in the latter
the reason for a failure to adjust their habits of thought to the
altered requirements of industrial efficiency is innutrition,
absence of such surplus of energy as is needed in order to make
the adjustment with facility, together with a lack of opportunity
to acquire and become habituated to the modern point of view. The
trend of the selective process runs in much the same direction in
both cases.

From the point of view which the modern industrial life
inculcates, phenomena are habitually subsumed under the
quantitative relation of mechanical sequence. The indigent
classes not only fall short of the modicum of leisure necessary
in order to appropriate and assimilate the more recent
generalizations of science which this point of view involves, but
they also ordinarily stand in such a relation of personal
dependence or subservience to their pecuniary superiors as
materially to retard their emancipation from habits of thought
proper to the regime of status. The result is that these classes
in some measure retain that general habit of mind the chief
expression of which is a strong sense of personal status, and of
which devoutness is one feature.

In the older communities of the European culture, the hereditary
leisure class, together with the mass of the indigent population,
are given to devout observances in an appreciably higher degree
than the average of the industrious middle class, wherever a
considerable class of the latter character exists. But in some of
these countries, the two categories of conservative humanity
named above comprise virtually the whole population. Where these
two classes greatly preponderate, their bent shapes popular
sentiment to such an extent as to bear down any possible
divergent tendency in the inconsiderable middle class, and
imposes a devout attitude upon the whole community.

This must, of course, not be construed to say that such
communities or such classes as are exceptionally prone to devout
observances tend to conform in any exceptional degree to the
specifications of any code of morals that we may be accustomed to
associate with this or that confession of faith. A large measure
of the devout habit of mind need not carry with it a strict
observance of the injunctions of the Decalogue or of the common
law. Indeed, it is becoming somewhat of a commonplace with
observers of criminal life in European communities that the
criminal and dissolute classes are, if anything, rather more
devout, and more naively so, than the average of the population.
It is among those who constitute the pecuniary middle class and
the body of law-abiding citizens that a relative exemption from
the devotional attitude is to be looked for. Those who best
appreciate the merits of the higher creeds and observances would
object to all this and say that the devoutness of the low-class
delinquents is a spurious, or at the best a superstitious
devoutness; and the point is no doubt well taken and goes
directly and cogently to the purpose intended. But for the
purpose of the present inquiry these extra-economic,
extra-psychological distinctions must perforce be neglected,
however valid and however decisive they may be for the purpose
for which they are made.

What has actually taken place with regard to class
emancipation from the habit of devout observance is shown by the
latter-day complaint of the clergy -- that the churches are
losing the sympathy of the artisan classes, and are losing their
hold upon them. At the same time it is currently believed that
the middle class, commonly so called, is also falling away in the
cordiality of its support of the church, especially so far as
regards the adult male portion of that class. These are currently
recognized phenomena, and it might seem that a simple reference
to these facts should sufficiently substantiate the general
position outlined. Such an appeal to the general phenomena of
popular church attendance and church membership may be
sufficiently convincing for the proposition here advanced. But it
will still be to the purpose to trace in some detail the course
of events and the particular forces which have wrought this
change in the spiritual attitude of the more advanced industrial
communities of today. It will serve to illustrate the manner in
which economic causes work towards a secularization of men's
habits of thought. In this respect the American community should
afford an exceptionally convincing illustration, since this
community has been the least trammelled by external circumstances
of any equally important industrial aggregate.

After making due allowance for exceptions and sporadic departures
from the normal, the situation here at the present time may be
summarized quite briefly. As a general rule the classes that are
low in economic efficiency, or in intelligence, or both, are
peculiarly devout -- as, for instance, the Negro population of
the South, much of the lower-class foreign
population, much of the rural population, especially in those
sections which are backward in education, in the stage of
development of their industry, or in respect of their industrial
contact with the rest of the community. So also such fragments as
we possess of a specialized or hereditary indigent class, or of a
segregated criminal or dissolute class; although among these
latter the devout habit of mind is apt to take the form of a
naive animistic belief in luck and in the efficacy of shamanistic
practices perhaps more frequently than it takes the form of a
formal adherence to any accredited creed. The artisan class, on
the other hand, is notoriously falling away from the accredited
anthropomorphic creeds and from all devout observances. This
class is in an especial degree exposed to the characteristic
intellectual and spiritual stress of modern organized industry,
which requires a constant recognition of the undisguised
phenomena of impersonal, matter-of-fact sequence and an
unreserved conformity to the law of cause and effect. This class
is at the same time not underfed nor over-worked to such an
extent as to leave no margin of energy for the work of

The case of the lower or doubtful leisure class in America -- the
middle class commonly so called -- is somewhat peculiar. It
differs in respect of its devotional life from its European
counterpart, but it differs in degree and method rather than in
substance. The churches still have the pecuniary support of this
class; although the creeds to which the class adheres with the
greatest facility are relatively poor in anthropomorphic content.
At the same time the effective middle-class congregation tends,
in many cases, more or less remotely perhaps, to become a
congregation of women and minors. There is an appreciable lack of
devotional fervor among the adult males of the middle class,
although to a considerable extent there survives among them a
certain complacent, reputable assent to the outlines of the
accredited creed under which they were born. Their everyday life
is carried on in a more or less close contact with the industrial

This peculiar sexual differentiation, which tends to
delegate devout observances to the women and their children, is
due, at least in part, to the fact that the middle-class women
are in great measure a (vicarious) leisure class. The same is
true in a less degree of the women of the lower, artisan classes.
They live under a regime of status handed down from an earlier
stage of industrial development, and thereby they preserve a
frame of mind and habits of thought which incline them to an
archaic view of things generally. At the same time they stand in
no such direct organic relation to the industrial process at
large as would tend strongly to break down those habits of
thought which, for the modern industrial purpose, are obsolete.
That is to say, the peculiar devoutness of women is a particular
expression of that conservatism which the women of civilized
communities owe, in great measure, to their economic position.
For the modern man the patriarchal relation of status is by no
means the dominant feature of life; but for the women on the
other hand, and for the upper middle-class women especially,
confined as they are by prescription and by economic
circumstances to their "domestic sphere," this relation is the
most real and most formative factor of life. Hence a habit of
mind favorable to devout observances and to the interpretation of
the facts of life generally in terms of personal status. The
logic, and the logical processes, of her everyday domestic life
are carried over into the realm of the supernatural, and the
woman finds herself at home and content in a range of ideas which
to the man are in great measure alien and imbecile.

Still the men of this class are also not devoid of piety,
although it is commonly not piety of an aggressive or exuberant
kind. The men of the upper middle class commonly take a more
complacent attitude towards devout observances than the men of
the artisan class. This may perhaps be explained in part by
saying that what is true of the women of the class is true to a
less extent also of the men. They are to an appreciable extent a
sheltered class; and the patriarchal relation of status which
still persists in their conjugal life and in their habitual use
of servants, may also act to conserve an archaic habit of mind
and may exercise a retarding influence upon the process of
secularization which their habits of thought are undergoing. The
relations of the American middle-class man to the economic
community, however, are usually pretty close and exacting;
although it may be remarked, by the way and in qualification,
that their economic activity frequently also partakes in some
degree of the patriarchal or quasi-predatory character. The
occupations which are in good repute among this class and which
have most to do with shaping the class habits of thought, are the
pecuniary occupations which have been spoken of in a similar
connection in an earlier chapter. There is a good deal of the
relation of arbitrary command and submission, and not a little of
shrewd practice, remotely akin to predatory fraud. All this
belongs on the plane of life of the predatory barbarian, to whom
a devotional attitude is habitual. And in addition to this, the
devout observances also commend themselves to this class on the
ground of reputability. But this latter incentive to piety
deserves treatment by itself and will be spoken of presently.
There is no hereditary leisure class of any consequence in the
American community, except in the South. This Southern leisure
class is somewhat given to devout observances; more so than any
class of corresponding pecuniary standing in other parts of the
country. It is also well known that the creeds of the South are
of a more old-fashioned cast than their counterparts in the
North. Corresponding to this more archaic devotional life of the
South is the lower industrial development of that section. The
industrial organization of the South is at present, and
especially it has been until quite recently, of a more primitive
character than that of the American community taken as a whole.
It approaches nearer to handicraft, in the paucity and rudeness
of its mechanical appliances, and there is more of the element of
mastery and subservience. It may also be noted that, owing to the
peculiar economic circumstances of this section, the greater
devoutness of the Southern population, both white and black, is
correlated with a scheme of life which in many ways recalls the
barbarian stages of industrial development. Among this population
offenses of an archaic character also are and have been
relatively more prevalent and are less deprecated than they are
elsewhere; as, for example, duels, brawls, feuds, drunkenness,
horse-racing, cock-fighting, gambling, male sexual incontinence
(evidenced by the considerable number of mulattoes). There is
also a livelier sense of honor -- an expression of sportsmanship
and a derivative of predatory life.

As regards the wealthier class of the North, the American leisure
class in the best sense of the term, it is, to begin with,
scarcely possible to speak of an hereditary devotional attitude.
This class is of too recent growth to be possessed of a
well-formed transmitted habit in this respect, or even of a
special home-grown tradition. Still, it may be noted in passing
that there is a perceptible tendency among this class to give in
at least a nominal, and apparently something of a real, adherence
to some one of the accredited creeds. Also, weddings, funerals,
and the like honorific events among this class are pretty
uniformly solemnized with some especial degree of religious
circumstance. It is impossible to say how far this adherence to a
creed is a bona fide reversion to a devout habit of mind, and how
far it is to be classed as a case of protective mimicry assumed
for the purpose of an outward assimilation to canons of
reputability borrowed from foreign ideals. Something of a
substantial devotional propensity seems to be present, to judge
especially by the somewhat peculiar degree of ritualistic
observance which is in process of development in the upper-class
cults. There is a tendency perceptible among the upper-class
worshippers to affiliate themselves with those cults which lay
relatively great stress on ceremonial and on the spectacular
accessories of worship; and in the churches in which an
upper-class membership predominates, there is at the same time a
tendency to accentuate the ritualistic, at the cost of the
intellectual features in the service and in the apparatus of the
devout observances. This holds true even where the church in
question belongs to a denomination with a relatively slight
general development of ritual and paraphernalia. This peculiar
development of the ritualistic element is no doubt due in part to
a predilection for conspicuously wasteful spectacles, but it
probably also in part indicates something of the devotional
attitude of the worshippers. So far as the latter is true, it
indicates a relatively archaic form of the devotional habit. The
predominance of spectacular effects in devout observances is
noticeable in all devout communities at a relatively primitive
stage of culture and with a slight intellectual development. It
is especially characteristic of the barbarian culture. Here there
is pretty uniformly present in the devout observances a direct
appeal to the emotions through all the avenues of sense. And a
tendency to return to this naive, sensational method of appeal is
unmistakable in the upper-class churches of today. It is
perceptible in a less degree in the cults which claim the
allegiance of the lower leisure class and of the middle classes.
There is a reversion to the use of colored lights and brilliant
spectacles, a freer use of symbols, orchestral music and incense,
and one may even detect in "processionals" and "recessionals" and
in richly varied genuflexional evolutions, an incipient reversion
to so antique an accessory of worship as the sacred dance.
This reversion to spectacular observances is not confined to the
upper-class cults, although it finds its best exemplification and
its highest accentuation in the higher pecuniary and social
altitudes. The cults of the lower-class devout portion of the
community, such as the Southern Negroes and the backward foreign
elements of the population, of course also show a strong
inclination to ritual, symbolism, and spectacular effects; as
might be expected from the antecedents and the cultural level of
those classes. With these classes the prevalence of ritual and
anthropomorphism are not so much a matter of reversion as of
continued development out of the past. But the use of ritual and
related features of devotion are also spreading in other
directions. In the early days of the American community the
prevailing denominations started out with a ritual and
paraphernalia of an austere simplicity; but it is a matter
familiar to every one that in the course of time these
denominations have, in a varying degree, adopted much of the
spectacular elements which they once renounced. In a general way,
this development has gone hand in hand with the growth of the
wealth and the ease of life of the worshippers and has reached
its fullest expression among those classes which grade highest in
wealth and repute.

The causes to which this pecuniary stratification of
devoutness is due have already been indicated in a general way in
speaking of class differences in habits of thought. Class
differences as regards devoutness are but a special expression of
a generic fact. The lax allegiance of the lower middle class, or
what may broadly be called the failure of filial piety among this
class, is chiefly perceptible among the town populations engaged
in the mechanical industries. In a general way, one does not, at
the present time, look for a blameless filial piety among those
classes whose employment approaches that of the engineer and the
mechanician. These mechanical employments are in a degree a
modern fact. The handicraftsmen of earlier times, who served an
industrial end of a character similar to that now served by the
mechanician, were not similarly refractory under the discipline
of devoutness. The habitual activity of the men engaged in these
branches of industry has greatly changed, as regards its
intellectual discipline, since the modern industrial processes
have come into vogue; and the discipline to which the mechanician
is exposed in his daily employment affects the methods and
standards of his thinking also on topics which lie outside his
everyday work. Familiarity with the highly organized and highly
impersonal industrial processes of the present acts to derange
the animistic habits of thought. The workman's office is becoming
more and more exclusively that of discretion and supervision in a
process of mechanical, dispassionate sequences. So long as the
individual is the chief and typical prime mover in the process;
so long as the obtrusive feature of the industrial process is the
dexterity and force of the individual handicraftsman; so long the
habit of interpreting phenomena in terms of personal motive and
propensity suffers no such considerable and consistent
derangement through facts as to lead to its elimination. But
under the later developed industrial processes, when the prime
movers and the contrivances through which they work are of an
impersonal, non-individual character, the grounds of
generalization habitually present in the workman's mind and the
point of view from which he habitually apprehends phenomena is an
enforced cognizance of matter-of-fact sequence. The result, so
far as concerts the workman's life of faith, is a proclivity to
undevout scepticism.

It appears, then, that the devout habit of mind attains its best
development under a relatively archaic culture; the term "devout"
being of course here used in its anthropological sense simply,
and not as implying anything with respect to the
spiritual attitude so characterized, beyond the fact of a
proneness to devout observances. It appears also that this devout
attitude marks a type of human nature which is more in consonance
with the predatory mode of life than with the later-developed,
more consistently and organically industrial life process of the
community. It is in large measure an expression of the archaic
habitual sense of personal status -- the relation of mastery and
subservience -- and it therefore fits into the industrial scheme
of the predatory and the quasi-peaceable culture, but does not
fit into the industrial scheme of the present. It also appears
that this habit persists with greatest tenacity among those
classes in the modern communities whose everyday life is most
remote from the mechanical processes of industry and which are
the most conservative also in other respects; while for those
classes that are habitually in immediate contact with modern
industrial processes, and whose habits of thought are therefore
exposed to the constraining force of technological necessities,
that animistic interpretation of phenomena and that respect of
persons on which devout observance proceeds are in process of
obsolescence. And also -- as bearing especially on the present
discussion -- it appears that the devout habit to some extent
progressively gains in scope and elaboration among those classes
in the modern communities to whom wealth and leisure accrue in
the most pronounced degree. In this as in other relations, the
institution of a leisure class acts to conserve, and even to
rehabilitate, that archaic type of human nature and those
elements of the archaic culture which the industrial evolution of
society in its later stages acts to eliminate.

Chapter Thirteen

Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interests

In an increasing proportion as time goes on, the
anthropomorphic cult, with its code of devout observations,
suffers a progressive disintegration through the stress of
economic exigencies and the decay of the system of status. As
this disintegration proceeds, there come to be associated and
blended with the devout attitude certain other motives and
impulses that are not always of an anthropomorphic origin, nor
traceable to the habit of personal subservience. Not all of these
subsidiary impulses that blend with the habit of devoutness in
the later devotional life are altogether congruous with the
devout attitude or with the anthropomorphic apprehension of the
sequence of phenomena. The origin being not the same, their
action upon the scheme of devout life is also not in the same
direction. In many ways they traverse the underlying norm of
subservience or vicarious life to which the code of devout
observations and the ecclesiastical and sacerdotal institutions
are to be traced as their substantial basis. Through the presence
of these alien motives the social and industrial regime of status
gradually disintegrates, and the canon of personal subservience
loses the support derived from an unbroken tradition. Extraneous
habits and proclivities encroach upon the field of action
occupied by this canon, and it presently comes about that the
ecclesiastical and sacerdotal structures are partially converted
to other uses, in some measure alien to the purposes of the
scheme of devout life as it stood in the days of the most
vigorous and characteristic development of the priesthood.

Among these alien motives which affect the devout scheme in its
later growth, may be mentioned the motives of charity and of
social good-fellowship, or conviviality; or, in more general
terms, the various expressions of the sense of human solidarity
and sympathy. It may be added that these extraneous uses of the
ecclesiastical structure contribute materially to its survival in
name and form even among people who may be ready to give up the
substance of it. A still more characteristic and more pervasive
alien element in the motives which have gone to formally uphold
the scheme of devout life is that non-reverent sense of aesthetic
congruity with the environment, which is left as a residue of the
latter-day act of worship after elimination of its
anthropomorphic content. This has done good service for the
maintenance of the sacerdotal institution through blending with
the motive of subservience. This sense of impulse of aesthetic
congruity is not primarily of an economic character, but it has a
considerable indirect effect in shaping the habit of mind of the
individual for economic purposes in the later stages of
industrial development; its most perceptible effect in this
regard goes in the direction of mitigating the somewhat
pronounced self-regarding bias that has been transmitted by
tradition from the earlier, more competent phases of the regime
of status. The economic bearing of this impulse is therefore seen
to transverse that of the devout attitude; the former goes to
qualify, if not eliminate, the self-regarding bias, through
sublation of the antithesis or antagonism of self and not-self;
while the latter, being and expression of the sense of personal
subservience and mastery, goes to accentuate this antithesis and
to insist upon the divergence between the self-regarding interest
and the interests of the generically human life process.

This non-invidious residue of the religious life -- the sense of
communion with the environment, or with the generic life process
-- as well as the impulse of charity or of sociability, act in a
pervasive way to shape men's habits of thought for the economic
purpose. But the action of all this class of proclivities is
somewhat vague, and their effects are difficult to trace in
detail. So much seems clear, however, as that the action of this
entire class of motives or aptitudes tends in a direction
contrary to the underlying principles of the institution of the
leisure class as already formulated. The basis of that
institution, as well as of the anthropomorphic cults associated
with it in the cultural development, is the habit of invidious
comparison; and this habit is incongruous with the exercise of
the aptitudes now in question. The substantial canons of the
leisure-class scheme of life are a conspicuous waste of time and
substance and a withdrawal from the industrial process; while the
particular aptitudes here in question assert themselves, on the
economic side, in a deprecation of waste and of a futile manner
of life, and in an impulse to participation in or identification
with the life process, whether it be on the economic side or in
any other of its phases or aspects.

It is plain that these aptitudes and habits of life to which they
give rise where circumstances favor their expression, or where
they assert themselves in a dominant way, run counter to the
leisure-class scheme of life; but it is not clear that life under
the leisure-class scheme, as seen in the later stages of its
development, tends consistently to the repression of these
aptitudes or to exemption from the habits of thought in which
they express themselves. The positive discipline of the
leisure-class scheme of life goes pretty much all the other way.
In its positive discipline, by prescription and by selective
elimination, the leisure-class scheme favors the all-pervading
and all-dominating primacy of the canons of waste and invidious
comparison at every conjuncture of life. But in its negative
effects the tendency of the leisure-class discipline is not so
unequivocally true to the fundamental canons of the scheme. In
its regulation of human activity for the purpose of pecuniary
decency the leisure-class canon insists on withdrawal from the
industrial process. That is to say, it inhibits activity in the
directions in which the impecunious members of the community
habitually put forth their efforts. Especially in the case of
women, and more particularly as regards the upper-class and
upper-middle-class women of advanced industrial communities, this
inhibition goes so far as to insist on withdrawal even from the
emulative process of accumulation by the quasi-predator methods
of the pecuniary occupations.

The pecuniary or the leisure-class culture, which set out as an
emulative variant of the impulse of workmanship, is in its latest
development beginning to neutralize its own ground, by
eliminating the habit of invidious comparison in respect of
efficiency, or even of pecuniary standing. On the other hand, the
fact that members of the leisure class, both men and women, are
to some extent exempt from the necessity of finding a livelihood
in a competitive struggle with their fellows, makes it possible
for members of this class not only to survive, but even, within
bounds, to follow their bent in case they are not gifted with the
aptitudes which make for success in the competitive struggle.
That is to say, in the latest and fullest development of the
institution, the livelihood of members of this class does not
depend on the possession and the unremitting exercise of those
aptitudes are therefore greater in the higher grades of the
leisure class than in the general average of a population living
under the competitive system.

In an earlier chapter, in discussing the conditions of survival
of archaic traits, it has appeared that the peculiar position of
the leisure class affords exceptionally favorable chances for the
survival of traits which characterize the type of human nature
proper to an earlier and obsolete cultural stage. The class is
sheltered from the stress of economic exigencies, and is in this
sense withdrawn from the rude impact of forces which make for
adaptation to the economic situation. The survival in the leisure
class, and under the leisure-class scheme of life, of traits and
types that are reminiscent of the predatory culture has already
been discussed. These aptitudes and habits have an exceptionally
favorable chance of survival under the leisure-class regime. Not
only does the sheltered pecuniary position of the leisure class
afford a situation favorable to the survival of such individuals
as are not gifted with the complement of aptitudes required for
serviceability in the modern industrial process; but the
leisure-class canons of reputability at the same time enjoin the
conspicuous exercise of certain predatory aptitudes. The
employments in which the predatory aptitudes find exercise serve
as an evidence of wealth, birth, and withdrawal from the
industrial process. The survival of the predatory traits under
the leisure-class culture is furthered both negatively, through
the industrial exemption of the class, and positively, through
the sanction of the leisure-class canons of decency.

With respect to the survival of traits characteristic of the
ante-predatory savage culture the case is in some degree
different. The sheltered position of the leisure class favors the
survival also of these traits; but the exercise of the aptitudes
for peace and good-will does not have the affirmative sanction of
the code of proprieties. Individuals gifted with a temperament
that is reminiscent of the ante-predatory culture are placed at
something of an advantage within the leisure class, as compared
with similarly gifted individuals outside the class, in that they
are not under a pecuniary necessity to thwart these aptitudes
that make for a non-competitive life; but such individuals are
still exposed to something of a moral constraint which urges them
to disregard these inclinations, in that the code of proprieties
enjoins upon them habits of life based on the predatory
aptitudes. So long as the system of status remains intact, and so
long as the leisure class has other lines of non-industrial
activity to take to than obvious killing of time in aimless and
wasteful fatigation, so long no considerable departure from the
leisure-class scheme of reputable life is to be looked for. The
occurrence of non-predatory temperament with the class at that
stage is to be looked upon as a case of sporadic reversion. But
the reputable non-industrial outlets for the human propensity to
action presently fail, through the advance of economic
development, the disappearance of large game, the decline of war,
the obsolescence of proprietary government, and the decay of the
priestly office. When this happens, the situation begins to
change. Human life must seek expression in one direction if it
may not in another; and if the predatory outlet fails, relief is
sought elsewhere.

As indicated above, the exemption from pecuniary stress has been
carried farther in the case of the leisure-class women of the
advanced industrial communities than in that of any other
considerable group of persons. The women may therefore be
expected to show a more pronounced reversion to a non-invidious
temperament than the men. But there is also among men of the
leisure class a perceptible increase in the range and scope of
activities that proceed from aptitudes which are not to be
classed as self-regarding, and the end of which is not an
invidious distinction. So, for instance, the greater number of
men who have to do with industry in the way of pecuniarily
managing an enterprise take some interest and some pride in
seeing that the work is well done and is industrially effective,
and this even apart from the profit which may result from any
improvement of this kind. The efforts of commercial clubs and
manufacturers' organizations in this direction of non-invidious
advancement of industrial efficiency are also well know.

The tendency to some other than an invidious purpose in life has
worked out in a multitude of organizations, the purpose of which
is some work of charity or of social amelioration. These
organizations are often of a quasi-religious or pseudo-religious
character, and are participated in by both men and women.
Examples will present themselves in abundance on reflection, but
for the purpose of indicating the range of the propensities in
question and of characterizing them, some of the more obvious
concrete cases may be cited. Such, for instance, are the
agitation for temperance and similar social reforms, for prison
reform, for the spread of education, for the suppression of vice,
and for the avoidance of war by arbitration, disarmament, or
other means; such are, in some measure, university settlements,
neighborhood guilds, the various organizations typified by the
Young Men's Christian Association and Young People's Society for
Christian Endeavor, sewing-clubs, art clubs, and even commercial
clubs; such are also, in some slight measure, the pecuniary
foundations of semi-public establishments for charity, education,
or amusement, whether they are endowed by wealthy individuals or
by contributions collected from persons of smaller means -- in so
far as these establishments are not of a religious character.

It is of course not intended to say that these efforts proceed
entirely from other motives than those of a self-regarding kind.
What can be claimed is that other motives are present in the
common run of cases, and that the perceptibly greater prevalence
of effort of this kind under the circumstances of the modern
industrial life than under the unbroken regime of the principle
of status, indicates the presence in modern life of an effective
scepticism with respect to the full legitimacy of an emulative
scheme of life. It is a matter of sufficient notoriety to have
become a commonplace jest that extraneous motives are commonly
present among the incentives to this class of work -- motives of
a self-regarding kind, and especially the motive of an invidious
distinction. To such an extent is this true, that many ostensible
works of disinterested public spirit are no doubt initiated and
carried on with a view primarily to the enhance repute or even to
the pecuniary gain, of their promoters. In the case of some
considerable groups of organizations or establishments of this
kind the invidious motive is apparently the dominant motive both
with the initiators of the work and with their supporters. This
last remark would hold true especially with respect to such works
as lend distinction to their doer through large and conspicuous
expenditure; as, for example, the foundation of a university or
of a public library or museum; but it is also, and perhaps
equally, true of the more commonplace work of participation in
such organizations. These serve to authenticate the pecuniary
reputability of their members, as well as gratefully to keep them
in mind of their superior status by pointing the contrast between
themselves and the lower-lying humanity in whom the work of
amelioration is to be wrought; as, for example, the university
settlement, which now has some vogue. But after all allowances
and deductions have been made, there is left some remainder of
motives of a non-emulative kind. The fact itself that distinction
or a decent good fame is sought by this method is evidence of a
prevalent sense of the legitimacy, and of the presumptive
effectual presence, of a non-emulative, non-invidious interest,
as a consistent factor in the habits of thought of modern

In all this latter-day range of leisure-class activities that
proceed on the basis of a non-invidious and non-religious
interest, it is to be noted that the women participate more
actively and more persistently than the men -- except, of course,
in the case of such works as require a large expenditure of
means. The dependent pecuniary position of the women disables
them for work requiring large expenditure. As regards the general
range of ameliorative work, the members of the priesthood or
clergy of the less naively devout sects, or the secularized
denominations, are associated with the class of women. This is as
the theory would have it. In other economic relations, also, this
clergy stands in a somewhat equivocal position between the class
of women and that of the men engaged in economic pursuits. By
tradition and by the prevalent sense of the proprieties, both the
clergy and the women of the well-to-do classes are placed in the
position of a vicarious leisure class; with both classes the
characteristic relation which goes to form the habits of thought
of the class is a relation of subservience -- that is to say, an
economic relation conceived in personal terms; in both classes
there is consequently perceptible a special proneness to construe
phenomena in terms of personal relation rather than of causal
sequence; both classes are so inhibited by the canons of decency
from the ceremonially unclean processes of the lucrative or
productive occupations as to make participation in the industrial
life process of today a moral impossibility for them. The result
of this ceremonial exclusion from productive effort of the vulgar
sort is to draft a relatively large share of the energies of the
modern feminine and priestly classes into the service of other
interests than the self-regarding one. The code leaves no
alternative direction in which the impulse to purposeful action
may find expression. The effect of a consistent inhibition on
industrially useful activity in the case of the leisure-class
women shows itself in a restless assertion of the impulse to
workmanship in other directions than that of business activity.
As has been noticed already, the everyday life of the
well-to-do women and the clergy contains a larger element of
status than that of the average of the men, especially than that
of the men engaged in the modern industrial occupations proper.
Hence the devout attitude survives in a better state of
preservation among these classes than among the common run of men
in the modern communities. Hence an appreciable share of the
energy which seeks expression in a non-lucrative employment among
these members of the vicarious leisure classes may be expected to
eventuate in devout observances and works of piety. Hence, in
part, the excess of the devout proclivity in women, spoken of in
the last chapter. But it is more to the present point to note the
effect of this proclivity in shaping the action and coloring the
purposes of the non-lucrative movements and organizations here
under discussion. Where this devout coloring is present it lowers
the immediate efficiency of the organizations for any economic
end to which their efforts may be directed. Many organizations,
charitable and ameliorative, divide their attention between the
devotional and the secular well-being of the people whose
interests they aim to further. It can scarcely be doubted that if
they were to give an equally serious attention and effort
undividedly to the secular interests of these people, the
immediate economic value of their work should be appreciably
higher than it is. It might of course similarly be said, if this
were the place to say it, that the immediate efficiency of these
works of amelioration for the devout might be greater if it were
not hampered with the secular motives and aims which are usually

Some deduction is to be made from the economic value of this
class of non-invidious enterprise, on account of the intrusion of
the devotional interest. But there are also deductions to be made
on account of the presence of other alien motives which more or
less broadly traverse the economic trend of this non-emulative
expression of the instinct of workmanship. To such an extent is
this seen to be true on a closer scrutiny, that, when all is
told, it may even appear that this general class of enterprises
is of an altogether dubious economic value -- as measured in
terms of the fullness or facility of life of the individuals or
classes to whose amelioration the enterprise is directed. For
instance, many of the efforts now in reputable vogue for the
amelioration of the indigent population of large cities are of
the nature, in great part, of a mission of culture. It is by this
means sought to accelerate the rate of speed at which given
elements of the upper-class culture find acceptance in the
everyday scheme of life of the lower classes. The solicitude of
"settlements," for example, is in part directed to enhance the
industrial efficiency of the poor and to teach them the more
adequate utilization of the means at hand; but it is also no less
consistently directed to the inculcation, by precept and example,
of certain punctilios of upper-class propriety in manners and
customs. The economic substance of these proprieties will
commonly be found on scrutiny to be a conspicuous waste of time
and goods. Those good people who go out to humanize the poor are
commonly, and advisedly, extremely scrupulous and silently
insistent in matters of decorum and the decencies of life. They
are commonly persons of an exemplary life and gifted with a
tenacious insistence on ceremonial cleanness in the various items
of their daily consumption. The cultural or civilizing efficacy
of this inculcation of correct habits of thought with respect to
the consumption of time and commodities is scarcely to be
overrated; nor is its economic value to the individual who
acquires these higher and more reputable ideals inconsiderable.
Under the circumstances of the existing pecuniary culture, the
reputability, and consequently the success, of the individual is
in great measure dependent on his proficiency in demeanor and
methods of consumption that argue habitual waste of time and
goods. But as regards the ulterior economic bearing of this
training in worthier methods of life, it is to be said that the
effect wrought is in large part a substitution of costlier or
less efficient methods of accomplishing the same material
results, in relations where the material result is the fact of
substantial economic value. The propaganda of culture is in great
part an inculcation of new tastes, or rather of a new schedule of
proprieties, which have been adapted to the upper-class scheme of
life under the guidance of the leisure-class formulation of the
principles of status and pecuniary decency. This new schedule of
proprieties is intruded into the lower-class scheme of life from
the code elaborated by an element of the population whose life
lies outside the industrial process; and this intrusive schedule
can scarcely be expected to fit the exigencies of life for these
lower classes more adequately than the schedule already in vogue
among them, and especially not more adequately than the schedule
which they are themselves working out under the stress of modern
industrial life.

All this of course does not question the fact that the
proprieties of the substituted schedule are more decorous than
those which they displace. The doubt which presents itself is
simply a doubt as to the economic expediency of this work of
regeneration -- that is to say, the economic expediency in that
immediate and material bearing in which the effects of the change
can be ascertained with some degree of confidence, and as viewed
from the standpoint not of the individual but of the facility of
life of the collectivity. For an appreciation of the economic
expediency of these enterprises of amelioration, therefore, their
effective work is scarcely to be taken at its face value, even
where the aim of the enterprise is primarily an economic one and
where the interest on which it proceeds is in no sense
self-regarding or invidious. The economic reform wrought is
largely of the nature of a permutation in the methods of
conspicuous waste.

But something further is to be said with respect to the character
of the disinterested motives and canons of procedure in all work
of this class that is affected by the habits of thought
characteristic of the pecuniary culture; and this further
consideration may lead to a further qualification of the
conclusions already reached. As has been seen in an earlier
chapter, the canons of reputability or decency under the
pecuniary culture insist on habitual futility of effort as the
mark of a pecuniarily blameless life. There results not only a
habit of disesteem of useful occupations, but there results also
what is of more decisive consequence in guiding the action of any
organized body of people that lays claim to social good repute.
There is a tradition which requires that one should not be
vulgarly familiar with any of the processes or details that have
to do with the material necessities of life. One may
meritoriously show a quantitative interest in the well-being of
the vulgar, through subscriptions or through work on managing
committees and the like. One may, perhaps even more
meritoriously, show solicitude in general and in detail for the
cultural welfare of the vulgar, in the way of contrivances for
elevating their tastes and affording them opportunities for
spiritual amelioration. But one should not betray an intimate
knowledge of the material circumstances of vulgar life, or of the
habits of thought of the vulgar classes, such as would
effectually direct the efforts of these organizations to a
materially useful end. This reluctance to avow an unduly intimate
knowledge of the lower-class conditions of life in detail of
course prevails in very different degrees in different
individuals; but there is commonly enough of it present
collectively in any organization of the kind in question
profoundly to influence its course of action. By its cumulative
action in shaping the usage and precedents of any such body, this
shrinking from an imputation of unseemly familiarity with vulgar
life tends gradually to set aside the initial motives of the
enterprise, in favor of certain guiding principles of good
repute, ultimately reducible to terms of pecuniary merit. So that
in an organization of long standing the initial motive of
furthering the facility of life in these classes comes gradually
to be an ostensible motive only, and the vulgarly effective work
of the organization tends to obsolescence.

What is true of the efficiency of organizations for non-invidious
work in this respect is true also as regards the work of
individuals proceeding on the same motives; though it perhaps
holds true with more qualification for individuals than for
organized enterprises. The habit of gauging merit by the
leisure-class canons of wasteful expenditure and unfamiliarity
with vulgar life, whether on the side of production or of
consumption, is necessarily strong in the individuals who aspire
to do some work of public utility. And if the individual should
forget his station and turn his efforts to vulgar effectiveness,
the common sense of the community-the sense of pecuniary decency
-- would presently reject his work and set him right. An example
of this is seen in the administration of bequests made by
public-spirited men for the single purpose (at least ostensibly)
of furthering the facility of human life in some particular
respect. The objects for which bequests of this class are most
frequently made at present are most frequently made at present
are schools, libraries, hospitals, and asylums for the infirm or
unfortunate. The avowed purpose of the donor in these cases is
the amelioration of human life in the particular respect which is
named in the bequest; but it will be found an invariable rule
that in the execution of the work not a little of other motives,
frequency incompatible with the initial motive, is present and
determines the particular disposition eventually made of a good
share of the means which have been set apart by the bequest.
Certain funds, for instance, may have been set apart as a
foundation for a foundling asylum or a retreat for invalids. The
diversion of expenditure to honorific waste in such cases is not
uncommon enough to cause surprise or even to raise a smile. An
appreciable share of the funds is spent in the construction of an
edifice faced with some aesthetically objectionable but expensive
stone, covered with grotesque and incongruous details, and
designed, in its battlemented walls and turrets and its massive
portals and strategic approaches, to suggest certain barbaric
methods of warfare. The interior of the structure shows the same
pervasive guidance of the canons of conspicuous waste and
predatory exploit. The windows, for instance, to go no farther
into detail, are placed with a view to impress their pecuniary
excellence upon the chance beholder from the outside, rather than
with a view to effectiveness for their ostensible end in the
convenience or comfort of the beneficiaries within; and the
detail of interior arrangement is required to conform itself as
best it may to this alien but imperious requirement of pecuniary

In all this, of course, it is not to be presumed that the donor
would have found fault, or that he would have done
otherwise if he had taken control in person; it appears that in
those cases where such a personal direction is exercised -- where
the enterprise is conducted by direct expenditure and
superintendence instead of by bequest -- the aims and methods of
management are not different in this respect. Nor would the
beneficiaries, or the outside observers whose ease or vanity are
not immediately touched, be pleased with a different disposition
of the funds. It would suit no one to have the enterprise
conducted with a view directly to the most economical and
effective use of the means at hand for the initial, material end
of the foundation. All concerned, whether their interest is
immediate and self-regarding, or contemplative only, agree that
some considerable share of the expenditure should go to the
higher or spiritual needs derived from the habit of an invidious
comparison in predatory exploit and pecuniary waste. But this
only goes to say that the canons of emulative and pecuniary
reputability so far pervade the common sense of the community as
to permit no escape or evasion, even in the case of an enterprise
which ostensibly proceeds entirely on the basis of a
non-invidious interest.

It may even be that the enterprise owes its honorific virtue, as
a means of enhancing the donor's good repute, to the imputed
presence of this non-invidious motive; but that does not hinder
the invidious interest from guiding the expenditure. The
effectual presence of motives of an emulative or invidious origin
in non-emulative works of this kind might be shown at length and
with detail, in any one of the classes of enterprise spoken of
above. Where these honorific details occur, in such cases, they
commonly masquerade under designations that belong in the field
of the aesthetic, ethical or economic interest. These special
motives, derived from the standards and canons of the pecuniary
culture, act surreptitiously to divert effort of a non-invidious
kind from effective service, without disturbing the agent's sense
of good intention or obtruding upon his consciousness the
substantial futility of his work. Their effect might be traced
through the entire range of that schedule of non-invidious,
meliorative enterprise that is so considerable a feature, and
especially so conspicuous a feature, in the overt scheme of life
of the well-to-do. But the theoretical bearing is perhaps clear
enough and may require no further illustration; especially as
some detailed attention will be given to one of these lines of
enterprise -- the establishments for the higher learning -- in
another connection.

Under the circumstances of the sheltered situation in which the
leisure class is placed there seems, therefore, to be
something of a reversion to the range of non-invidious impulses
that characterizes the ante-predatory savage culture. The
reversion comprises both the sense of workmanship and the
proclivity to indolence and good-fellowship. But in the modern
scheme of life canons of conduct based on pecuniary or invidious
merit stand in the way of a free exercise of these impulses; and
the dominant presence of these canons of conduct goes far to
divert such efforts as are made on the basis of the non-invidious
interest to the service of that invidious interest on which the
pecuniary culture rests. The canons of pecuniary decency are
reducible for the present purpose to the principles of waste,
futility, and ferocity. The requirements of decency are
imperiously present in meliorative enterprise as in other lines
of conduct, and exercise a selective surveillance over the
details of conduct and management in any enterprise. By guiding
and adapting the method in detail, these canons of decency go far
to make all non-invidious aspiration or effort nugatory. The
pervasive, impersonal, un-eager principle of futility is at hand
from day to day and works obstructively to hinder the effectual
expression of so much of the surviving ante-predatory aptitudes
as is to be classed under the instinct of workmanship; but its
presence does not preclude the transmission of those aptitudes or
the continued recurrence of an impulse to find expression for

In the later and farther development of the pecuniary culture,
the requirement of withdrawal from the industrial process in
order to avoid social odium is carried so far as to comprise
abstention from the emulative employments. At this advanced stage
the pecuniary culture negatively favors the assertion of the
non-invidious propensities by relaxing the stress laid on the
merit of emulative, predatory, or pecuniary occupations, as
compared with those of an industrial or productive kind. As was
noticed above, the requirement of such withdrawal from all
employment that is of human use applies more rigorously to the
upper-class women than to any other class, unless the priesthood
of certain cults might be cited as an exception, perhaps more
apparent than real, to this rule. The reason for the more extreme
insistence on a futile life for this class of women than for the
men of the same pecuniary and social grade lies in their being
not only an upper-grade leisure class but also at the same time a
vicarious leisure class. There is in their case a double ground
for a consistent withdrawal from useful effort.

It has been well and repeatedly said by popular writers and
speakers who reflect the common sense of intelligent people on
questions of social structure and function that the position of
woman in any community is the most striking index of the level of
culture attained by the community, and it might be added, by any
given class in the community. This remark is perhaps truer as
regards the stage of economic development than as regards
development in any other respect. At the same time the position
assigned to the woman in the accepted scheme of life, in any
community or under any culture, is in a very great degree an
expression of traditions which have been shaped by the
circumstances of an earlier phase of development, and which have
been but partially adapted to the existing economic
circumstances, or to the existing exigencies of temperament and
habits of mind by which the women living under this modern
economic situation are actuated.

The fact has already been remarked upon incidentally in the
course of the discussion of the growth of economic institutions
generally, and in particular in speaking of vicarious leisure and
of dress, that the position of women in the modern economic
scheme is more widely and more consistently at variance with the
promptings of the instinct of workmanship than is the position of
the men of the same classes. It is also apparently true that the
woman's temperament includes a larger share of this instinct that
approves peace and disapproves futility. It is therefore not a
fortuitous circumstance that the women of modern industrial
communities show a livelier sense of the discrepancy between the
accepted scheme of life and the exigencies of the economic

The several phases of the "woman question" have brought out in
intelligible form the extent to which the life of women in modern
society, and in the polite circles especially, is regulated by a
body of common sense formulated under the economic circumstances
of an earlier phase of development. It is still felt that woman's
life, in its civil, economic, and social bearing, is essentially
and normally a vicarious life, the merit or demerit of which is,
in the nature of things, to be imputed to some other individual
who stands in some relation of ownership or tutelage to the
woman. So, for instance, any action on the part of a woman which
traverses an injunction of the accepted schedule of proprieties
is felt to reflect immediately upon the honor of the man whose
woman she is. There may of course be some sense of incongruity in
the mind of any one passing an opinion of this kind on the
woman's frailty or perversity; but the common-sense judgment of
the community in such matters is, after all, delivered without
much hesitation, and few men would question the legitimacy of
their sense of an outraged tutelage in any case that might arise.
On the other hand, relatively little discredit attaches to a
woman through the evil deeds of the man with whom her life is

The good and beautiful scheme of life, then -- that is to say the
scheme to which we are habituated -- assigns to the woman a
"sphere" ancillary to the activity of the man; and it is felt
that any departure from the traditions of her assigned round of
duties is unwomanly. If the question is as to civil rights or the
suffrage, our common sense in the matter -- that is to say the
logical deliverance of our general scheme of life upon the point
in question -- says that the woman should be represented in the
body politic and before the law, not immediately in her own
person, but through the mediation of the head of the household to
which she belongs. It is unfeminine in her to aspire to a
self-directing, self-centered life; and our common sense tells us
that her direct participation in the affairs of the community,
civil or industrial, is a menace to that social order which
expresses our habits of thought as they have been formed under
the guidance of the traditions of the pecuniary culture. "All
this fume and froth of 'emancipating woman from the slavery of
man' and so on, is, to use the chaste and expressive language of
Elizabeth Cady Stanton inversely, 'utter rot.' The social
relations of the sexes are fixed by nature. Our entire
civilization -- that is whatever is good in it -- is based on the
home." The "home" is the household with a male head. This view,
but commonly expressed even more chastely, is the prevailing view
of the woman's status, not only among the common run of the men
of civilized communities, but among the women as well. Women have
a very alert sense of what the scheme of proprieties requires,
and while it is true that many of them are ill at ease under the
details which the code imposes, there are few who do not
recognize that the existing moral order, of necessity and by the
divine right of prescription, places the woman in a position
ancillary to the man. In the last analysis, according to her own
sense of what is good and beautiful, the woman's life is, and in
theory must be, an expression of the man's life at the second

But in spite of this pervading sense of what is the good and
natural place for the woman, there is also perceptible an
incipient development of sentiment to the effect that this whole
arrangement of tutelage and vicarious life and imputation of
merit and demerit is somehow a mistake. Or, at least, that even
if it may be a natural growth and a good arrangement in its time
and place, and in spite of its patent aesthetic value, still it
does not adequately serve the more everyday ends of life in a
modern industrial community. Even that large and substantial body
of well-bred, upper and middle-class women to whose
dispassionate, matronly sense of the traditional proprieties this
relation of status commends itself as fundamentally and eternally
right-even these, whose attitude is conservative, commonly find
some slight discrepancy in detail between things as they are and
things as they should be in this respect. But that less
manageable body of modern women who, by force of youth,
education, or temperament, are in some degree out of touch with
the traditions of status received from the barbarian culture, and
in whom there is, perhaps, an undue reversion to the impulse of
self-expression and workmanship -- these are touched with a sense
of grievance too vivid to leave them at rest.

In this "New-Woman" movement -- as these blind and
incoherent efforts to rehabilitate the woman's pre-glacial
standing have been named -- there are at least two elements
discernible, both of which are of an economic character. These
two elements or motives are expressed by the double watchword,
"Emancipation" and "Work." Each of these words is recognized to
stand for something in the way of a wide-spread sense of
grievance. The prevalence of the sentiment is recognized even by
people who do not see that there is any real ground for a
grievance in the situation as it stands today. It is among the
women of the well-to-do classes, in the communities which are
farthest advanced in industrial development, that this sense of a
grievance to be redressed is most alive and finds most frequent
expression. That is to say, in other words, there is a demand,
more or less serious, for emancipation from all relation of
status, tutelage, or vicarious life; and the revulsion asserts
itself especially among the class of women upon whom the scheme
of life handed down from the regime of status imposes with least
litigation a vicarious life, and in those communities whose
economic development has departed farthest from the circumstances
to which this traditional scheme is adapted. The demand comes
from that portion of womankind which is excluded by the canons of
good repute from all effectual work, and which is closely
reserved for a life of leisure and conspicuous consumption.

More than one critic of this new-woman movement has
misapprehended its motive. The case of the American "new woman"
has lately been summed up with some warmth by a popular observer
of social phenomena: "She is petted by her husband, the most
devoted and hard-working of husbands in the world. ... She is the
superior of her husband in education, and in almost every
respect. She is surrounded by the most numerous and delicate
attentions. Yet she is not satisfied. ... The Anglo-Saxon 'new
woman' is the most ridiculous production of modern times, and
destined to be the most ghastly failure of the century." Apart
from the deprecation -- perhaps well placed -- which is contained
in this presentment, it adds nothing but obscurity to the woman
question. The grievance of the new woman is made up of those
things which this typical characterization of the movement urges
as reasons why she should be content. She is petted, and is
permitted, or even required, to consume largely and conspicuously
-- vicariously for her husband or other natural guardian. She is
exempted, or debarred, from vulgarly useful employment -- in
order to perform leisure vicariously for the good repute of her
natural (pecuniary) guardian. These offices are the conventional
marks of the un-free, at the same time that they are incompatible
with the human impulse to purposeful activity. But the woman is
endowed with her share-which there is reason to believe is more
than an even share -- of the instinct of workmanship, to which
futility of life or of expenditure is obnoxious. She must unfold
her life activity in response to the direct, unmediated stimuli
of the economic environment with which she is in contact. The
impulse is perhaps stronger upon the woman than upon the man to
live her own life in her own way and to enter the industrial
process of the community at something nearer than the second

So long as the woman's place is consistently that of a drudge,
she is, in the average of cases, fairly contented with her lot.
She not only has something tangible and purposeful to do, but she
has also no time or thought to spare for a rebellious assertion
of such human propensity to self-direction as she has inherited.
And after the stage of universal female drudgery is passed, and a
vicarious leisure without strenuous application becomes the
accredited employment of the women of the well-to-do classes, the
prescriptive force of the canon of pecuniary decency, which
requires the observance of ceremonial futility on their part,
will long preserve high-minded women from any sentimental leaning
to self-direction and a "sphere of usefulness." This is
especially true during the earlier phases of the pecuniary
culture, while the leisure of the leisure class is still in great
measure a predatory activity, an active assertion of mastery in
which there is enough of tangible purpose of an invidious kind to
admit of its being taken seriously as an employment to which one
may without shame put one's hand. This condition of things has
obviously lasted well down into the present in some communities.
It continues to hold to a different extent for different
individuals, varying with the vividness of the sense of status
and with the feebleness of the impulse to workmanship with which
the individual is endowed. But where the economic structure of
the community has so far outgrown the scheme of life based on
status that the relation of personal subservience is no longer
felt to be the sole "natural" human relation; there the ancient
habit of purposeful activity will begin to assert itself in the
less conformable individuals against the more recent, relatively
superficial, relatively ephemeral habits and views which the
predatory and the pecuniary culture have contributed to our
scheme of life. These habits and views begin to lose their
coercive force for the community or the class in question so soon
as the habit of mind and the views of life due to the predatory
and the quasi-peaceable discipline cease to be in fairly close
accord with the later-developed economic situation. This is
evident in the case of the industrious classes of modern
communities; for them the leisure-class scheme of life has lost
much of its binding force, especially as regards the element of
status. But it is also visibly being verified in the case of the
upper classes, though not in the same manner.

The habits derived from the predatory and quasi-peaceable culture
are relatively ephemeral variants of certain underlying
propensities and mental characteristics of the race; which it
owes to the protracted discipline of the earlier,
proto-anthropoid cultural stage of peaceable, relatively
undifferentiated economic life carried on in contact with a
relatively simple and invariable material environment. When the
habits superinduced by the emulative method of life have ceased
to enjoy the section of existing economic exigencies, a process
of disintegration sets in whereby the habits of thought of more
recent growth and of a less generic character to some extent
yield the ground before the more ancient and more pervading
spiritual characteristics of the race.

In a sense, then, the new-woman movement marks a reversion to a
more generic type of human character, or to a less
differentiated expression of human nature. It is a type of human
nature which is to be characterized as proto-anthropoid, and, as
regards the substance if not the form of its dominant traits, it
belongs to a cultural stage that may be classed as possibly
sub-human. The particular movement or evolutional feature in
question of course shares this characterization with the rest of
the later social development, in so far as this social
development shows evidence of a reversion to the spiritual
attitude that characterizes the earlier, undifferentiated stage
of economic revolution. Such evidence of a general tendency to
reversion from the dominance of the invidious interest is not
entirely wanting, although it is neither plentiful nor
unquestionably convincing. The general decay of the sense of
status in modern industrial communities goes some way as evidence
in this direction; and the perceptible return to a disapproval of
futility in human life, and a disapproval of such activities as
serve only the individual gain at the cost of the collectivity or
at the cost of other social groups, is evidence to a like effect.
There is a perceptible tendency to deprecate the infliction of
pain, as well as to discredit all marauding enterprises, even
where these expressions of the invidious interest do not tangibly
work to the material detriment of the community or of the
individual who passes an opinion on them. It may even be said
that in the modern industrial communities the average,
dispassionate sense of men says that the ideal character is a
character which makes for peace, good-will, and economic
efficiency, rather than for a life of self-seeking, force, fraud,
and mastery.

The influence of the leisure class is not consistently for or
against the rehabilitation of this proto-anthropoid human nature.
So far as concerns the chance of survival of individuals endowed
with an exceptionally large share of the primitive traits, the
sheltered position of the class favors its members directly by
withdrawing them from the pecuniary struggle; but indirectly,
through the leisure-class canons of conspicuous waste of goods
and effort, the institution of a leisure class lessens the chance
of survival of such individuals in the entire body of the
population. The decent requirements of waste absorb the surplus
energy of the population in an invidious struggle and leave no
margin for the non-invidious expression of life. The remoter,
less tangible, spiritual effects of the discipline of decency go
in the same direction and work perhaps more effectually to the
same end. The canons of decent life are an elaboration of the
principle of invidious comparison, and they accordingly act
consistently to inhibit all non-invidious effort and to inculcate
the self-regarding attitude.

Chapter Fourteen

The Higher Learning as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture

To the end that suitable habits of thought on certain heads may
be conserved in the incoming generation, a scholastic discipline
is sanctioned by the common sense of the community and
incorporated into the accredited scheme of life. The habits of
thought which are so formed under the guidance of teachers and
scholastic traditions have an economic value -- a value as
affecting the serviceability of the individual -- no less real
than the similar economic value of the habits of thought formed
without such guidance under the discipline of everyday life.
Whatever characteristics of the accredited scholastic scheme and
discipline are traceable to the predilections of the leisure
class or to the guidance of the canons of pecuniary merit are to
be set down to the account of that institution, and whatever
economic value these features of the educational scheme possess
are the expression in detail of the value of that institution. It

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest