Class vs. American Exceptionalism
The nonexistence of a class structure is one of the foremost reasons why Americans lead the world. In many cases, "class" means separation of people into haves and have-nots. Because of the absence of class, we are not hampered by restrictions left over from the feudal era. That leaves us free to partake of the benefits of the world without the chains binding us to the past.
In my hometown in West Virginia, during the Great Depression, women who were immigrants from Europe refused to personally clean their houses. They paid someone else to do it even though everyone was short of money. They were imbued with the European class structure, which forbad such lower-class work. Americans, who don't use such restrictions, can achieve so much more.
Because of the equality of all, every necessary endeavor in life was to figure out ways of making life easier for all activities. House cleaning was only a problem to solve. Vacuum cleaners were invented to solve that problem. Better and sturdier mops appeared. All kinds of equipment for cleaning became a part of life. Sales of these tools made fortunes for their producers. Money was important to the "classed" but not important enough to lose their class restrictions.
In Europe, there was never any effort to assist the housecleaning chore. The lower class just had to adjust to the burden of being born to serve.
Another example of American success is the automobile. Few could afford a Rolls-Royce, but the elite could because they were born to affluence. Americans could provide cars for workers, and Henry Ford proceeded to furnish them.
In America, millions of purchasers were able to buy whatever the market produced. That was our treasure: workers who could buy things. The more people we hire, the more buyers we supply to the economy.
Construction became a major industry. Buildings were being built all over America. The invention of chainsaws and cement were only the beginning of a revolution in America. Big cities were the allure for jobs and culture.
Colleges sprang up all over the country. Education in all fields held promise due to the absence of a restrictive class system.
We have made buyers from all walks of life, by accepting people as equals and rejecting a class system.
A woman who became the first manager of the trading post on a nearby Indian reservation in the early part of the 20th century would take any job that helped her succeed and earn an adequate living. She figured out a way to learn the Indian language by trading words from the Sears Roebuck catalog with one of her customers. She made historical quilts, which are in the local museum. A typical American, nothing deterred her.
When a baby was born to the lower class, his future was already determined. One's birth placed one into either doing manual labor or having someone else committed to doing it. Daily life depended on the services of the lower class, and blood was the only determinant.
Blood was the one established factor in life among the lower classes. At birth, one's life was foretold until death.
In America, one could not determine what the future would bring. There were no class restrictions on hopes for the future. One would try anything to succeed in solving a problem. There is nothing more satisfying than winning over an obstacle. That is why we do puzzles.
In Europe, the upper class never performed what they considered menial labor. It was degrading. One learned to order its completion, but never to execute it.
The rest of the world, could not engage in change. However, Americans seized the opportunity for change without the restrictions of class or tribe.
There is still plenty of evidence of worldwide classism, which sometimes strays into American life.
A friend who told me of her life as the wife of a graduate student at a leading American university and told how they lived in a row of apartments. Next door lived an Indian graduate student with his Indian wife. The wife was a class and caste person from India who had been raised in an upper-class household and exhibited all the characteristics of being upper-class. She had no idea how to take care of the apartment and do the usual American chores with which we are familiar. My friend tried to help her, but it was difficult because the Indian lady had never done any of those chores for herself. She had been cared for by servants and had no idea what it took to keep her alive.
An American physician has been trying to teach a new member of her medical practice about the chores required to serve in that practice. The Indian doctor is refusing to do certain of these chores, which she considers not part of what she is disposed to do. Her upper-class background interferes with her ability to perform those chores she considers beneath her class. How can she doctor in a world where one does not refuse to care for all in the best way possible?
These upper-class restraints are still alive and well in various parts of the world. They hamper the performance of achieving success in making life better for all peoples. American experience succeeded in making a superior society we all enjoy, which others envy.
Life is impossible to survive these days in an insular society where the lower class performs all the chores related to existence. The upper class has lost its role.
These days, immediate performance is necessary to save lives. And how boring it is to have everything done for you.