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A very good paragraph

May 19, 2010
In a world where arbitrary norms are derided, the rules can be written and rewritten as often as is convenient to keep the walls as erected as possible between acceptable people doing acceptable things and unacceptable people doing unacceptable things. Dressing correctly shifts away from standards that can be adhered to and [is] defined entirely by who is and is not engaging in them. By the time people far down the social pole get word, you can change it all over again. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that as communication has increased, fashion not-quite-norms shift faster and faster to the point that it’s impossible to keep up.

More here.  This echoes a core intuition of mine: that many forms of ostensible egalitarianism in practice merely lead to an equally steep hierarchy that is just less transparent.  Thus my position on the eating club task force was that hobbling the clubs would be a bad thing.  Exclusive cliques would remain, but rather than having a neon sign pointing to where the status-seekers should queue up, we’d have less democratic institutions like The Tribe, which would make things even more difficult for those not already well connected.


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