Bill Pullman in Ruthless People lives in a trailer, has an aquarium, and has dark roots.
Many years ago I read a book by Paul Fussell titled Class. I vividly remember his description of one of the lower classes: lives in trailers and has aquariums. I had relatives who fit that exact description.
Before I go any further, I'll again point out the map is not the terrain: all these ideas and descriptions are ideas in our heads. They are not reality. They are always inaccurate and can always be refined.
He described the classes this way:
Top Out of Sight - Billionaires and multi-millionaires. The people so wealthy they can afford exclusive levels of privacy. We never hear about them because they don't want us to.
Upper Class - Millionaires, inherited wealth. Those who don't have to work. They refer to tuxes as "dinner jackets."
Upper Middle - Wealthy surgeons and lawyers, etc. Professionals who couldn't be described as middle class.
Middle Class - The great American majority, sort of.
High Proletarian (or "prole") - Skilled workers but manual labor. Electricians, plumbers, etc. Probably not familiar with the term "proletarian."
Middle Prole - Unskilled manual labor. Waitresses, painters.
Low Prole - Non-skilled of a lower level than mid prole. I suspect these people ask "Would you like fries with that, sir?" as a career.
Destitute - Working and non-working poor.
Bottom Out of Sight - Street people, the most destitute in society. "Out of sight" because they have no voice, influence or voter impact.
My parents were High Proletarian/Middle Class. Obviously, there are many on the margins.
Now it's try the castes that even many Americans know about:
Brahmins: priests, teachers and preachers. (This is the class to which I belong)
Kshatriyas: kings, governors, warriors and soldiers.
Vaishyas: cattle herders, agriculturists, businessmen, artisans and merchants.
Shudras: laborers and service providers.
Dalits: criminals, beggars, parasite.
Here's the Manosphere classes, which are the least mature, the most inaccurate, and the most insecure, since all men fit in almost all of the classes (and those who claim they don't are adolescent liars - early adolescent, I'd say: mentally and emotionally about 12):
Alpha: The alpha is the tall, good-looking guy who is the center of both male and female attention. The classic star of the football team who is dating the prettiest cheerleader. The successful business executive with the beautiful, stylish, blonde, size zero wife. All the women are attracted to him, while all the men want to be him, or at least be his friend. At a social gathering like a party, he's usually the loud, charismatic guy telling self-flattering stories to a group of attractive women who are listening with interest. However, alphas are only interested in women to the extent that they exist for the alpha's gratification, physical and psychological, they are actually more concerned with their overall group status.
Lifetime sexual partners = 4x average+.
Beta: Betas are the good-looking guys who aren't as uniformly attractive or socially dominant as the Alpha, but are nevertheless confident, attractive to women, and do well with them. At the party, they are the loud guy's friends who showed up with the alcohol and who are flirting with the tier one women and cheerfully pairing up with the tier two women. Betas tend to genuinely like women and view them in a somewhat optimistic manner, but they don't have a lot of illusions about them either. Betas tend to be happy, secure in themselves, and are up for anything their alpha wants to do. When they marry, it is not infrequently to a woman who was one of the alpha's former girlfriends.
Lifetime sexual partners = 2-3x average.
Delta: The normal guy. Deltas are the great majority of men. They can't attract the most attractive women, so they usually aim for the second-tier women with very limited success, and stubbornly resist paying attention to all of the third-tier women who are comfortably in their league. This is ironic, because deltas would almost always be happier with their closest female equivalents. When a delta does manage to land a second-tier woman, he is constantly afraid that she will lose interest in him and will, not infrequently, drive her into the very loss of interest he fears by his non-stop dancing of attendance upon her. In a social setting, the deltas are the men clustered together in groups, each of them making an occasional foray towards various small gaggles of women before beating a hasty retreat when direct eye contact and engaged responses are not forthcoming. Deltas tend to put the female sex on pedestals and have overly optimistic expectations of them; if a man rhapsodizes about his better half or is an inveterate White Knight, he is almost certainly a delta. Deltas like women, but find them mysterious, confusing, and are sometimes secretly a little afraid of them.
Lifetime sexual partners = 1-1.5x average
Gamma: The introspective, the unusual, the unattractive, and all too often the bitter. Gammas are often intelligent, usually unsuccessful with women, and not uncommonly all but invisible to them, the gamma alternates between placing women on pedestals and hating the entire sex. This mostly depends upon whether an attractive woman happened to notice his existence or not that day. Too introspective for their own good, gammas are the men who obsess over individual women for extended periods of time and supply the ranks of stalkers, psycho-jealous ex-boyfriends, and the authors of excruciatingly romantic rhyming doggerel. In the unlikely event they are at the party, they are probably in the corner muttering darkly about the behavior of everyone else there... sometimes to themselves. Gammas tend to have have a worship/hate relationship with women, the current direction of which is directly tied to their present situation. However, they are sexual rejects, not social rejects.
Lifetime voluntary sexual partners = .5x average
Omega: The truly unfortunate. Omegas are the social losers who were never in the game. Sometimes creepy, sometimes damaged, often clueless, and always undesirable. They're not at the party. It would never have crossed anyone's mind to invite them in the first place. Omegas are either totally indifferent to women or hate them with a borderline homicidal fury.
Lifetime sexual partners < 2
Sigma: The outsider who doesn't play the social game and manage to win at it anyhow. The sigma is hated by alphas because sigmas are the only men who don't accept or at least acknowledge, however grudgingly, their social dominance. (NB: Alphas absolutely hate to be laughed at and a sigma can often enrage an alpha by doing nothing more than smiling at him.) Everyone else is vaguely confused by them. In a social situation, the sigma is the man who stops in briefly to say hello to a few friends accompanied by a Tier 1 girl that no one has ever seen before. Sigmas like women, but tend to be contemptuous of them. They are usually considered to be strange. Gammas often like to think they are sigmas, failing to understand that sigmas are not social rejects, they are at the top of the social hierarchy despite their refusal to play by its rules.
Lifetime sexual partners = 4x average+.
Lambda: Those men who have quite literally no interest in conventional male-female sexual relations. They clearly have their own hierarchy of sorts, but I can't say that I know much about it other than it appears to somehow involve youth, free weights, and mustaches.
Lifetime sexual partners = 10x average+
Unfortunately, the intellectual proles of the Manosphere will defend their delusions of classes with the fervor of fundamentalist lower-class Protestants...which I estimate is how most of them were raised (I can't imagine anyone of any upper-class persuasion babbling about "Alphas" and "Betas" and "plates" - and truly believing these things). And according to the definitions below, almost all denizens of the Manosphere are wannabe Dalits, which is why I hold them in such contempt. In other words, many of them are the vulgar lower classes.
There are sites which discuss classes, such is Unqualified Reservations.
"It's always fun to rethink the world by redefining our terminology. But the brain can only stand so much of this. The cerebrum boils, releasing green gas. The cortex starts to blacken and fray. A shocking, foreign pain arises between the ears. It will not go away.
"So it's a relief when there's a backup word, which already has exactly the right meaning, but is disused and carries no (or at least few) political and emotional associations. This word is "caste." The word it replaces is so encrusted in historical nonsense that I won't even say it.
"Of course the word 'caste' is generally associated with India. The U.S. is not India. So if we meant 'caste' in the precise Hindu sense of the word (varna), there are no castes in the U.S. except perhaps among some Indian immigrants.
"Some redefinition, therefore, is necessary. Let's define a 'caste' as a social group with its own internal status system. All hominids crave status and will exchange almost anything for it, but different castes assign status in very different ways - as we'll see.
"Here's my taxonomy of American castes. I've picked names from various historical cultures, hopefully without strong emotional associations for modern readers, for these castes. The implicit analogies these names create should be roughly accurate, but certainly not precise. I have ordered them alphabetically to avoid any implicit ranking.
"In the Brahmin caste, status among both men and women is defined by scholarly achievement, success in an intellectual profession, or position of civic responsibility. The highest-status Brahmins are artists and scientists, but Brahmins can also be doctors or lawyers, although it is much better to be a doctor than a lawyer, and much better to be a lawyer than a dentist (a trade which was perhaps once Brahmin, but is now definitely Vaisya). Ideally, as a Brahmin, if you are a doctor you should be primarily concerned with caring for the poor; if you are a lawyer, your practice should focus on civil liberties and social justice - cardiology and corporate law are slightly de trop. An increasing number of young Brahmins consider themselves 'activists' and work for 'nonprofits' or 'NGOs,' lending some credence to the theory that the Brahmins are our ruling or governing caste. Entry into the Brahmin caste is conferred almost entirely by first-tier university admissions, although getting into Harvard doesn't mean you don't still need to make something of yourself.
In the Dalit caste, status among men is defined by power, wealth and sexual success, among women by attractiveness and popularity. The favored occupation of Dalit men is crime, preferably of the organized variety. However, Dalit criminals are not generally psychopathic; they perceive crime as guerrilla warfare against an unjust society. Dalit women may support themselves by crime, welfare (which they consider a right), or payments from men. Both male and female Dalits may occasionally support themselves by conventional employment, but this is usually in jobs that other castes (except Helots) would consider demeaning, and Dalits share this association. The Dalit caste is not monolithic; it is divided into a number of ethnic subcastes, such as African-American, Mexican, etc. A few white Dalits exist, notably in the Appalachians. There is little or no solidarity between the various Dalit ethnicities.
The Helot caste is an imported peasant caste, originating primarily in rural Central America. Status among Helot men is conferred primarily by hard work, money and power. Status among Helot women is conferred by attractiveness, motherhood, and association with successful men. The Helot value system does not seem to be sustainable in the U.S., and the children of Helots tend to grow up as Dalits. New Helots, however, can always be imported to replace them.
The Optimate caste has to be mentioned, because it was until quite recently the U.S.'s ruling caste. It is not clear, however, that the Optimate value system still exists in any meaningful sense, and if it does it is decaying rapidly, with most young Optimates becoming Brahmins. However, status among any men and women who do still follow the Optimate way is conferred by birth, breeding and personal character, with wealth serving as a prerequisite but not a mark of actual distinction. The Bible of the Optimate caste is, of course, the Social Register.
The Vaisya caste is the most difficult to define. It's tempting to say that a Vaisya is anyone who is not a Brahmin, Dalit, Helot or Optimate. Status among Vaisya men is conferred by productive employment, generally defined in monetary terms; by a successful family life; and by participation in church or other formal social groups. Status among Vaisya women is conferred by attractiveness, motherhood, and social participation, with an increasing number of Vaisya women entering the labor force, typically in unintellectual white-collar jobs.
"(Update: please see the comment by "smb," whose perspective of the present-day Optimate caste is much sharper and clearer than my definition - which on reflection is too antiquated.)"
Here is the comment by SMB:
"I am, admittedly, a bit wet behind the ears—as I'm still a senior in college—but what I've seen amongst my social set doesn't align very well with your castes. To give some context, I'm at an Ivy; about a third of my friends went to boarding school, a third private/parochial, and a third went public, as did I; about a third was born 'upper class’. Two-thirds were born 'middle class' (widely defined), as was I. Altogether we could be defined as a mix of your Brahmin and Optimate classes.
"I agree with SFG regarding doctors: cardiology and neurology definitely rank above family practice. Re working with the poor: most doctors I know do pro bono work anyway, rather than dedicating their careers to the 'poor.' However, this profession is overall considerably less prestigious than I imagine it once was. Literally all of my friends who have a parent who is a physician were told, in no uncertain terms, that they should avoid the profession completely. Half of the students I know who began as pre-meds have decided against pursuing a medical career, many opting for consulting or investment-banking.
"As far as those who work at various NGOs and nonprofits: they're mostly considered ne'er-do-wells. They largely belong to the 'trustifarian' set—pseudo-bohemians who will never have to work, never appreciate not having to work, and certainly never suffer the consequences of not working. Granted, there are a good number of folks who work at non-profits and think tanks, who are seen as important parts of some political movement or another (but they will probably end up in politics, or going to business or law school).
"For men, banking and consulting are generally considered the jobs to aim for, if one is able to get them. Ambitious women have slightly expanded options: advertising/marketing, PR, auction houses, even teaching (though most of these jobs are considered a spot for women to cool their heels whilst waiting to find a husband; not that anyone dare come out and say so).
"If a fellow is ambitious, but unable to get into either finance or consulting or somesuch field, he will often go the NGO/non-profit route at first. (Another option is government service: CIA, State Dept., military, White House intern.) Down the road he'll apply to business school or law school and begin his career in earnest.
"It should be noted that the quality-of-life for corporate lawyers is considered so dismal that most of those who earn law degrees don't actually ever want to practice law. Those too greedy/ambitious for government service will become paralegals, go to top-notch law schools, and slave away as corporate lawyers for most of their salad days. The 'better' set of lawyers takes the degree and heads to Washington, often bouncing between lobbying, staffing, non-profit, bureaucratic sectors &c. These are the ones who will serve as all points in the iron triangle at some time during their lives.
"Re Steve: Professional athletes (and Hollywood types) are considered hopelessly vulgar.
"Now, regarding entrance into this hybrid Brahmin/Optimate class I've been speaking of:
"*Top-tier universities help, but aren't required. Haverford, Trinity, Bucknell will do.
"*Personal character is important. Breeding is not.
"*Wealth is not a prerequisite to this broader class.
"*Good manners are a prerequisite.
"I see vestiges of the Optimate system you propose. I certainly know guys who went to Buckley, Exeter, and then a top Ivy. But America's relentless push to meritocracy has made any presumption of themselves as a ruling class appear incurably rude—amongst themselves, too, not just to us middle class visigoths. After their hundreds of thousands worth of schooling are complete, they tend to strive on the same playing field as those who came from modest suburbs and went to public school.
"Granted, these viewpoints will not quickly be admitted by most of those my age. Most will pretend to deeply admire their friends who enter the peace corps or work at some anti-land mine NGO. Their actual employment decisions are far more telling: very few pick altruistic jobs or 'public service' as a first choice, but rather as last resorts.
"Also, I would say this view is accepted by roughly 80% of those my age, having studied at similar institutions. Half of those could vaguely be considered 'traditionalists.' They want to find good jobs, earn capital (monetary or political), and start families. The other half could be called 'neoliberals.' These are the ones who are simply ambitious and mostly want material success; they feel fewer personal obligations towards family and community; they love both consumerist capitalism and the welfare state.
"The remaining 20% could be called the hangover from the counter-culture. They sneer at most economically productive jobs, and invariably go for the NGO/Peace Corps jobs, or perhaps academe. They would disagree with everything I've written above, but probably admit that most of their fellow students see things more or less as I do."
I suggest you read all the comments at the site. They are quite enlightening.