becomes correspondingly odious…

Under this common-sense barbarian appreciation of worth or honour, the taking of life – the killing of formidable competitors, whether brute or human – is honourable in the highest degree. And this high office of slaughter, as an expression of the slayer’s prepotence, casts a glamour of worth over every act of slaughter and over all the tools and accessories of the act. Arms are honourable, and the use of them, even in seeking the life of the meanest creatures of the fields, becomes a honorific employment. At the same time, employment in industry becomes correspondingly odious, and, in the common-sense apprehension, the handling of the tools and implements of industry falls beneath the dignity of able-bodied men. Labour becomes irksome.

Thorstein Veblen, Conspicuous Consumption, Penguin Books, 1899, p. 18


One thought on “becomes correspondingly odious…

  1. That’s a pretty powerful quote. It gets me thinking. It makes me thnk of the confusing ways that our society valorizes badassedness, yet freaks out over any incidence of actual violence. Zero tolerance school zones suspending a kid for making a gun with his hand, vs. the ever present pervasive militaristic jingoism of our country. It’s like the way so many of our movies involve heroes righteously killing many faceless bad-guy/victims, vs. the way people responded when the Aurora shooter decided to live out his action fantasies. It’s like we are stuck celebrating the perpetrators of violence while also not wanting violence.


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