Propaganda Subtext of Downton Abbey

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In the Downtown Abbey (really “Downton Abbey” but I call it Downtown Abbey), the domestic staff can (hopefully) be seen above. In Thorstein Veblen’s account, the origins of such servants began with the ownership of women seized as trophies of war. From this came the ownership of the products of labor of these war trophy wives. Over time there began to be an exemption for some of these servant/slaves from manufacturing and agriculture, low-status occupations, and eventually the modern domestic servant came into being. Their task was to attend to the leisure of His Lordship at the Downtown Abbey.

It is the old story of the house slaves versus the field slaves. The house slaves looked down on the actually productive field slaves. The house slaves were a step closer to the leisure class of their master. They were not having to engage in the “woman’s work” of manufacturing and agriculture. And so in the Downtown Abbey, the gardeners are invisible, like Mexicans.

The Downtown Abbey garnished soap opera, beamed over to America by the British fancy lads, tries to put over that His Lordship, Lord Crawley, is providing employment for all on his estate. In fact, however, the real wealth is created by the low-status manufacturing and agriculture, as Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations makes clear.

And who is this “Lord Crawley”? Is he a distant relation of another “Crawley”, Aleister Crowley, who proclaimed the “advent of the aeon of Horus”? Aleister Crowley, who believed he was the Beast of the Apocalypse, resided at the Abbey of Thelema. Lord Crawley resides at a different “Abbey”, the Downtown Abbey. (Further background: Paradise of the Fancy Lads, Ersjdamoo’s Blog entry of September 21, 2013.)

To prevent inbreeding, the fancy lads occasionally must widen the gene pool. And so we have the blood of the chauffeur, Tom Branson, incorporated into the Crawley genetic makeup when he marries Lady Sybil, daughter of His Lordship. A third cousin once removed, a “commoner” who engages in lawcraft, Matthew Crawley, also enhances the gene pool when he weds Lady Mary, another daughter of His Lordship.

Meanwhile the domestic staff, besides being presumptively a cut above the gardeners and such folk, themselves battle fiercely for their own respective rank within the servant hierarchy. The only villains in this paradise of the fancy lads are the two cigarette smokers, Thomas Barrow (First Footman) and Sarah O’Brien, lady’s maid to the wife of His Lordship. Alfred Nugent and James “Jimmy” Kent, footmen also but beneath the First Footman in the pecking order, are cunningly pitted against each other by the butler, Charles Carson. “Work harder, boys. I haven’t decided who is to be First Footman,” constantly insinuates Carson. Then, when First Footman Thomas gets promoted to under-butler, His Lordship gives First Footman status to “Jimmy” Kent as a bribe for his silence on a delicate matter.

Although Lord Crawley and family are ostensibly Anglican Church members, we never see them attending Sunday services. This might be because the fancy lads have reserved pews at church, to distance themselves from the commoners. And how would that look, to have the liberal Crawleys in Christian worship yet looking askance at their fellow Christians?

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About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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