Those classless societies, Australia and the USA

Dalrymple is taken to lunch in a grand club by some very rich men. They give him

the benefit of their opinion on Britain’s rigid class system. They appear not to notice that they are being served by a flurry of obsequious men, whose grovelling is certainly the equal of any that I have seen anywhere.

Since Dalrymple’s hosts are

intelligent and cultivated, I conclude that they must feel uneasy about the notion of class, perhaps even guilty at being themselves so obviously members of an upper class, and quite a rarefied one.

The embarrassment of Dalrymple’s interlocutors stems, he explains, from

a common confusion between a class society and a closed one. They are not the same thing. A classless society would be the most closed of all, because in it there could be no social mobility, upward or downward. Everyone would stay where he was because there would be nowhere else to go.

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