[iDC] viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace

Guido Sohne guido at sohne.net
Mon Jun 25 12:52:49 EDT 2007

On 6/25/07, dave cormier <coarsesalt at gmail.com> wrote:
> Interesting essay,

I agree. Very interesting, and I think very simple at the heart of it.

> So much of the issues with trying to stencil European conceptions of class
> onto a NA landscape stem from the obvious differences in historicity. The
> tripartite division was a reality of mid-nineteenth century England, based
> on hundreds of years of cultural separation... much of which still underlies
> the culture today. The dominant on this side of the Atlantic is tied up with
> a far more complex structure of money, individuality and ahistoricity (a
> cultural dominance based on perceived current power rather than historical
> place)

I think the dominant structures have moved from a purely class based
(rights by birth, or by inheritance) system, to one that is a little
more fluid (based on ability, capital as well as birth/inheritance -
which accumulate monetary or human capital to augment ability).

The real news here I think is that, the new class system, is based
much more on can do, and much less on birth/inheritance, with the
caveat that birth and inheritance can automatically put a given person
rather far ahead in the class system due to education, networks built
in school and in society etc.

> I'm a little concerned by the dualith that pops up in trying to 'classifye'
> kids into 'hegemonic and subaltern' (language seems good btw). While i
> understand that at some point it becomes necessary to group them in some
> way, the complexity of your description (particularly where you start to
> talk about the 'togetherness' of the subaltern) is somehow undermined by a
> simple have/havenot distinction. Is there a way, and I'm not suggesting that
> I know how, to diversify that distinction without actually making your
> original class discussion to complex?

I am not sure that this is possible or inherently undesirable. There
is definitely the element of have/have not, but as I tried to explain
above, I see that the have/have not line has been blurred into a
can/cannot do line.

The Facebook/MySpace division can, at the heart of it, be expressed as
a function of taste, of not accepting the plebian MySpace as 'good
enough' and wanting something better. Those who accept MySpace as
'good enough' and who do not want 'something better, something higher,
something more elite' then end up being on the lower rungs of the
ladder, simply by a lack of ambition.

Going further along this path, I have absolutely no sympathy for the
lower classes given that it is through their willful ignorance (not
seeking out higher and better, being happy with the status quo) that
countries and peoples outside their nation are oppressed by a runaway

I think that if not for such massed ignorance and stupidity, we would
not have governments running with people like the incumbent elected
(well, at least not twice!). And it shows in the type of concerns that
consume the populace of MySpace, the petty, shallow, narcissistic and
(for me) quite bland and uninteresting mob/herd mentalities.

I think I can accept being subjugated by people who know what they are
doing and why. They at least worked for it. I cannot accept
subjugation by ignorance or by default, and for that, I have a special
contempt for the people in these societies who have opportunities, if
not as much as the elites, they still have far more opportunities than
our plebians.

Somehow, I feel that the distribution of intelligence, creativity and
wealth, speaks somewhat against democracy, that the power to rule is
given to the people least able to do so.

-- G.

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