the social system. It staffed thenexecutive offices of thenburgeoning industrial machine,nit supplied the majority ofnoffice-holders in national, state,nand to a lesser extent cityngovernments, it created the artnand literature of the time, andnperhaps most important, it setnthe style which those whonhoped to rise must follow. In ancertain sense this Victoriannmiddle class would — for thenmoment — decide what Americanwas all about.nThe moment did not last long. As Mr.nCollier argues, the massive immigrationninto the United States in the late 19thncentury from Eastern and SouthernnEurope introduced alien subculturalnfragments into a largely Anglo-Saxonnculture, and the immigrants “werenbringing to the United States an array ofnhabits, attitudes, and folkways that conflicted,nat times dramatically, with thenprevailing American patterns of thoughtnand behavior. They were, in sum, resolutelynanti-Victorian in almost everynrespect. They did not believe in discipline,npunctuality, sobriety — the ordernand decency of the Victorian ethic,”nwhich was also a middle-class ethic, andnas new immigrants rose socially andneconomically, especially through thenmass entertainment industry theynhelped create, they displaced the Victoriannethic with their own anti-bourgeoisnpatterns of living.nThe “Victorian ethic” was a codenwell-adapted to an entrepreneurial societynof independent, self-governingnbourgeois, but it was a code that couldnnot serve the mass organizations ofncorporation and state, union and politicalnparty, that were displacing the compact,nautonomous, and decentralizedninstitutions of the old republic. Absorbednwithin these organizations asnworkers, consumers, and largely passivenaudiences and voters, the Americannmiddle class ceased to be either independentnor dominant, and it increasinglyntook on the characteristics of a proletariat,ndespite the affluence that itnretained.nMiddle-class affluence was preservednby the engines of managerial capitalismnin close alliance with the administrativenstate, and if the middle class fought thenwars and paid the taxes for the emergingnleviathan, it also received no small sharenof the material benefits in the form ofnfarm subsidies, small business loans,neducation through the G.I. Bill, housingnpolicy, and union legislation. Havingngained material security through itsndependence on the managerial system,nhowever, the middle class ceased to benboth independent as well as the dominantnand defining core of Americannsociety, and the bourgeois ethic of then19th century slowly began to wither. Bynthe 1950’s, television’s situation comediesnand the dreadful instructional filmsnthat warned teenagers of the perils ofndrugs, sex, drinking, rock and roll, andnreckless driving recorded the lame effortsnof a deracinated and dislocatednmiddle class desperately trying to transmitnits codes to its progeny and patheticallynproving that it had not the slightestnidea of how to do so.nYet today even the moment of materialnsecurity that the middle class enjoyednhas proved fleeting, and what isnoccurring in the economy now is thenfinal stage of proletarianization and dispossessionnbefore the middle class disappearsnforever as a distinct stratum ofnsociety. Fragments of the bourgeoisnethic survive and provide a makeshiftnideological framework for the middleclassnrevolt now bubbling in the suburbsnand housing developments, but whatnfeeds the revolt is not so much anynfierce attachment to the Victorian ethicnor the old republic it served as a demandnfor the kind of material security. thenpost-bourgeois middle class once enjoyed.nWhat the leaders of the revolt mustndo is understand and make clear to theirnpotential following that that kind ofnsecurity cannot be restored unless thosenwho demand it have gained sufficientnpolitical and cultural power to becomenLIBERAL ARTSnFORNICATION ETIQUETTEnagain the defining core of the wholensociety and to identify the nationalninterest with their own social interestsnand identity. But such political andncultural power can be gained only if thenpost-bourgeois middle class is able andnwilling to form a distinct social andnpolitical identity separate from the oldnbourgeois middle class and in oppositionnto the incumbent elites in the state,neconomy, and culture. Today the middlenclass has too many competitorsnamong the underclass and its elite alliesnfor the material benefits of the megastatenfor the middle class to expect tonretain the benefits it once enjoyed withoutna struggle for power. Moreover, thencurrent elites not only don’t care aboutnthe economic security of the Americannmiddle class (or of America); they welcomenits decline and destruction. ThenNew York Times, in its account of thenplight of the Peoria middle class, quotesnChairman Donald V. Fites of Caterpillar,nInc., the industrial mainstay ofnPeoria, that “There is a narrowing ofnthe gap between the average American’snincome and that of the Mexicans.nAs a human being, I think what isngoing on is positive. I don’t think it isnrealistic for 250 million Americans toncontrol so much of the world’snC.N.P.”nWith leaders like Mr. Fites, thenaverage American would be better offnswimming the Rio Grande and seekingnwelfare in Matamoros. Only if thenpost-bourgeois stratum aspires to displacenthe incumbent elite, dismanfle itsnapparatus of power, and itself constitutena new elite and reconstitute Americannsociety can it expect to restore itsnown security, preserve itself from destruction,nand extend its present momentnin the political sun into an enduringnepoch of civilization. <§>n”When two people have been intimate, and the sexualnencounter was a pleasant experience for both, it should benconsidered a common courtesy the next day for one to get inntouch with the other, if for no other reason than to say ‘thanknyou.’ Neither person should take a thank-you call as anprofession of love or as an indication of desire on the caller’snpart to deepen the relationship.”n—from New Manners for the ’90s by Letitia Baldridge.nnnMARCH 1992/13n