I know I’ve quoted this part from Frank Herbert before, but it’s still as relevant as ever:
Paul said: “Once I saw the body of a drowned fisherman recovered. The interesting thing about this man was the wounds on his shoulders–made by another fisherman’s claw-boots. This fisherman was one of several in a boat foundered. Another fisherman helping recover the body said he’d seen marks like this man’s wounds several times. They meant another drowning fisherman had tried to stand on this poor fellow’s shoulders in the attempt to reach up to the surface–to reach air.”
“Why is this interesting?” the banker asked.
“Because of an observation made by my father at the time. He said the drowning man who climbs on your shoulders to save himself is understandable–except when you see it happen in the drawing room.”
I was reminded of this by the behaviour seen most extremely in the purges, but more commonly seen in how snobbery seems to work; an envious middle-class aspires to more and mimics the upper-class, but always trying to contrast themselves to those that do not.
“See? We are so much like you.”
Of course, once enough people behave a certain way, an upper-class will move the goalposts because they absolutely do not want to be just like the middle-class.
Once something becomes fashionable among the upper class, aspiring elites know they must go along to have any hope of joining the higher ranks. But once it becomes fashionable among the hoi polloi, the elites update their tastes
— Rob Henderson
You will see this everywhere, not just in art and politics. And the relative cost, in time, energy, focus and money, is so large for those in the middle-class that aspire this way, relatively to the upper-class, that they don’t stand a chance. Instead they are wasting their ressources.