Class considerations in marriage are, or course, family considerations, as over against personal ones. Purely personal compatibility is not a thoroughly sound basis for marriage. As for strictly eugenic mating, it must be left to the future or to the laboratory. Furthermore, practical considerations might lead one to argue for classes as the best method of handling both marriage and character.Next Page
No one can compare with Ross as an open enemy of stratification. He denounces the class system in very certain terms: 56
Stratification is a veritable social disease which slows down the natural sifting of human beings, hampers the rise of the talented and the descent of dullards, discourages the masses, checks the flow of sympathy and ends in semi-paralysis, perhaps the break-up, of the society.
Conclusion. The question -- are the social classes a good thing? -- may be purely academic and unimportant. Indeed it can be wondered that in modern mobile urban life, in times of depressions, wars, and revolutions, there is any way in which the social classes can solidify their relative prestige levels at all. If cities are so constructed that they destroy the essential elements of community life, then the social classes and their stabilizing influences are already in the process of disintegration; families are becoming "individualized." In war the people become enslaved to military necessity. In revolutions they become terrorized.
Ideally considered, within the limits of social realities, classes may be considered desirable, but the problem is not one of trying to erect artificial barriers. Rather it is a question of how to arrange the mechanics of living and working so that people will live in smaller groups, where they may know each other and associate without governmental interference into their custom-built groupings.
Social classes are probably a value where they have a chance to live and function, especially in the recreational life of man. But "classes," mere aggregations of organizations for the exercise of power and to demand privileges, especially in large and rich countries, are a potential danger to the social order. In large cities trade unions are sometimes predatory, organized, machines, not gild brothers. Whereas politically organized groups form lobbies, the social organizations that make up the social classes follow hobbies. It is unfortunate, indeed, that the free associations of the social classes have to give way because of the excesses of the organized pressure groups; that is to say, fall into the control of dictators.
A social class structure may be ruined by governmental policies abroad and at home; it can be undermined by economic conditions and housing arrangements; and it can be disturbed by an educational policy that leads to frustration. The great question before modern society is how to come to an era of social and international peace. Those who cry for the abolition of the social classes are probably desirous of establishing a dictatorship, under which all associative groupings would be liquidated by the "government party." That would usher in an era of personal inequalities and social disintegration. In contrast, the social classes are much to be preferred, even cherished.
56. Edward Alsworth Ross, The Outlines of Sociology (New York, 1933) p. 283.