Class and Mobility

Sturdy class structures, although they may diminish individual opportunity, keep superior genes, when they arise, within each class. In doing so, then, they strengthen classes at every level.

High social mobility, by contrast, tends to “boil off” superior individuals, who, when they are given the opportunity to do so, move up and out — taking their genes with them. In this way every class, at every level, loses its best people to a class above it. Because the class system is not bottomless, this means that the lowest classes continuously deteriorate, while more gifted individuals cluster in the higher classes. (This latter tendency is perhaps mitigated, somewhat, by the somewhat lower likelihood of inferior higher-class individuals moving downward in class.) This necessarily increases social inequality, and therefore social tension. It also instantiates the “Peter Principle”, in that individuals will rise until they find their level of social or professional incompetence, then stay there. This leads to the presence at every level of individuals who are not naturally well-fitted members of that class. This has an entropic and disordering effect on organic hierarchies.

On the other hand, too rigid a class structure prevents the ascension of exceptional individuals, and so not only thwarts individual liberty, but also blunts the leading edge of a society’s progress and accomplishment.

So: What is the proper balance? What is it that we should be seeking to optimize?

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6 Comments

  1. We should seek to optimize personal accountability. That is possibly the single virtue that virtually everyone can improve for themselves.

    Posted March 26, 2017 at 7:28 pm | Permalink
  2. jay says

    Social mobility in moderation perhaps?

    Posted March 26, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink
  3. J. Silver says

    As static as possible would be highly desirable for Anglos and Jews. Everyone else will, of course, want maximum mobility. Given present demographic trends, I believe the latter will win out until a new dominant ethno-political configuration is worked out. This may or may not turn out very badly for us.

    Posted March 27, 2017 at 2:11 am | Permalink
  4. Eric says

    There are a lot of lower-class Anglos who would very much like some class mobility, myself among them. My ancestors were farmers and millworkers, and I am extremely glad not to be either one.

    Michael Young’s _The Rise of the Meritocracy_ pointed out (back in 1958!) that in a meritocracy, there is no sense of noblesse oblige, and the elites tend to be (more) exploitive of the lower classes because of that.

    Posted March 27, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    Eric,

    Michael Young’s _The Rise of the Meritocracy_ pointed out (back in 1958!) that in a meritocracy, there is no sense of noblesse oblige, and the elites tend to be (more) exploitive of the lower classes because of that.

    Yes, that’s a very important point. Everyone becomes a free-floating atom of no particular type, and the qualities naturally adhering to the different types — in particular the behaviors and interlocking obligations — disintegrate and are lost. This sharply increases the entropy of the system.

    Posted March 27, 2017 at 1:24 pm | Permalink
  6. Erik says

    I don’t have an answer to hand, but a consideration stands out to me:

    Increasing meritocracy leads to decreasing social mobility.

    Posted March 28, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink