Veblen vs. Post

The observations and conclusions of Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) is roughly the following:

1. “Conspicuous consumption” – when social institutions exploit the consumption of unessential goods for the sake a personal profit and not for productivity or pride of workmanship.
2. “Pecuniary emulation” – including male’s “ownership” of women to affirm prerogatives
3. To be seen doing work is to be lowered in social esteem
4. Ceremonial labour is executed only for show, in concert with the busy idleness of conspicuous leisure
5. The superficial display of good manners/form is a waste of time, yet continued as an enhancement of one’s social prestige
6. Modern day gentlemen still display gluttony, just more discreetly (caviar instead of beef-bones)
7. The lavish display by a host is to demonstrate that he/she has such an excess they must share
8. The obsessive decoration of homes is usually the outcome of housewives defined by wasteful expenditures of time and money
9. The poor cling to cheap imitations that emulate the upper-class habits accepted as the sign of social respectability
10. When taught to believe that saving their earnings is not that beneficial, people waste it on useless products
11. The age-old craving for gold and diamonds (breeders of war and misery, lacking all social use) is supplemented by modern hunger for brand-names that give objects a value they do not actually possess.

Now I need to pit this against Emily Post and her rationale as to why we must uphold etiquette and manners in her book Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home (1922). It is interesting to note that she was the daughter of a wealthy architect. This comic is not part of the argument, but sheds some light on Post's thinking none the less:

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