Class and Warfare

Judith Martin in Common Curtesy in which Miss Manners solves the problem that baffled Mr. Jefferson recognizes the uses to which etiquette is sometimes put.

This is the sort of thing that gives etiquette a bad name. It is a wonderful instrument of class warfare, although that is only one of the many uses of etiquette. Those who conclude that manners are therefore merely an affectation of the rich to annoy the poor also overlook the fact that codes of manners are employed by all classes going in different directions. The most sophisticated and ruthless inventors of manners, with rigid regulations about dress, speech, and hierarchy, are teenaged street gangs.
She of course does not let this trouble her from her main argument that civilization however artificial is important for individual as well as social well-being. In short, she offers a tract against the encroachment of commercial interests into the domain of private life. And for that we thank her.

And so for day 1627