Sumner is known for his sardonic remarks about the classes and for his justification of the class system. He believes that classes have societal value and form a hierarchy of such values. 44 Two of his most striking statements read: 45Next Page
Masses of men who are on a substantial equality with each other never can be anything but hopeless savages . . . . Masses of men who are approximately equal are in time exterminated or enslaved.
Spengler, as is well known, has decided opinions about the value of classes to society. One of his statements follows: 46
The more perfectly a nation represents, shows the true stamp and style of, it culture . . . the richer its organic disposition by status and rank, and the more genuine the respect of distances between ranks, from the strong-rooted peasantry to the urban patriciate. Here the high level of form, tradition, training, and custom, innate superiority in the ruling families, circles, and personalities signify the life, the destiny of the whole . . . .
Elsewhere Spengler says that "it is a piece of intellectual stupidity to want to substitute something else for the social structure that has grown up through the centuries and is fortified by tradition." 47
Landtman believes that social equality reigns among peoples in the "lowest degree of culture" and that differentiation of rank appertains "to a somewhat higher degree of evolution." 48
Gonnard believes that classes are inevitable, that the same tastes, habits, manners, and diversions cannot be pressed upon a people. He goes on to say: 49
The class system is a natural fact, like the family or the nation. To dream of a classless society is to dream of a society not only of equals but also of identical people . . . .
Gonnard makes his appeal for a class system in these terms: 50
On the one hand, the hierarchy of classes, with the variety of benefits or prerogatives enjoyed by each, may create conditions conducive to a spirit of emulation, arousing individual ambitions which offer a goal to initiative. Thus individuals will work and use their wits to rise in that hierarchy . . . . The classes will also, at certain times and under certain conditions, constitute an element of order and stability.
Gerould shows a negative attitude toward the abolition of classes in these words: "Not the devil himself can destroy natural hierarchies or assemble all classes into one, but he can simplify ruthlessly." 51
Durkheim argues for both classes and class rigidity: 52
. . . in order for morality to remain constant, that is to say, in order for the individual to remain attached to the group with a force equal to that of yesterday, the ties which bind him to it must become stronger and more numerous . . . . In short, since the division of labor becomes the chief source of social solidarity, it becomes, at the same time, the foundation of the moral order.
Gumplowicz belongs to those who look upon the classes as natural and inevitable: 53
Sociology is coming to recognize that there would be no rulers if there were no servants; no priests if there were no believers; no traders if they could find no buyers. The phenomenon of class building can be referred to a universal law: each want produces its own means of satisfaction.
Opinions against a system of social classes. Few social scientists have committed themselves in favor of a classless society. Some, of course, doubt the advisability of giving special economic or political prerogatives to any small part of the population. For instance, Gillette and Reinhardt write: 54
No Separate Leadership Class. Some would solve the problem of democracy by seeking to establish a separate leadership class. This is chimerical and impractical for two reasons. First, leadership arises out of the body of the people and does not run in classes . . . . Therefore there can be no such thing as general leadership or a general, separate, independent leadership class. Fortunately we call to leadership anyone from any class who manifests this ability.
MacIver argues for "merit standards" rather than class privileges in selecting leaders. He also casts aspersions upon some class habits, notably the fetish of "respectability." He states: 55
A further serious penalty of a system which limits the evocation of intrinsic merit is that it establishes other than merit standards, and therefore false standards, in the privileged class . . . . "Good form," the conventions and shibboleths of the prestige group, is apt to assume an importance superior to character . . . . In the middle classes particularly "respectablity" is apt to become a fetish. It becomes the measure, for example, of a "good marriage," and it sets standards in the choice of mates that ignore the primary qualifications of eugenic fitness as well as considerations of personal compatibility.
44. William Graham Sumner, Folkways (Boston, 1907) p. 41.
45. Ibid., p. 48.
46. Spengler, op. cit., p. 88.
47. Ibid., p. 92.
48. Landtman, op. cit., pp. 3 and 4.
49. R. Gonnard, "Quelques considérations sur les classes," in the Revue Economique Internationale, 17th year, vol. II, April 10, 1925, pp. 91 - 92; translation ours.
50. Ibid., p. 83; translation ours.
51. K. P. Gerould, "The Flight of the Genteel," Harper's Magazine, vol. 152, February, 1926, p. 310.
52. Emil Durkheim, On the Division of Labor in Society, tr. George Simpson (New York, 1933) pp. 400 - 401.
53. Gumplowicz, op. cit., p. 132.
54. John M. Gillette and James M. Reinhart, Current Social Problems (New York, 1937) p. 767.
55. R. M. MacIver, Society: A Textbook of Sociology (New York, 1937) p. 180.