Scale of servitude is an idea concept I’ve been talking about a lot lately. It used to refer to slavery, but now it’s the chain of social command in non-professional groups.
How do you decide who’s in charge and allowed to give orders in a social situation? In matriarchal cultures, everyone is socially less important than eldest woman of the family, and should concede to them. In patriarchal cultures, it’s the eldest man of the family. In my family, I may be head of my own household, but I am still socially subservient to my parents, and we are all subservient to the grandparents. With my parents still active in the social community, there’s very little I can do that will allow me to outrank my parents. However, they may retire from the social group, or I can gather assets to improve my group ranking.
Yet, some individualistic social cultures topple the chain of command entirely by leveraging ‘acquired social assets’ to get highly inflated rankings. The group allows for these other factors [things that the social group values] to decide who is in command; assets like: wealth, popularity, experience, charisma, strength. The tiers of the ‘scale of servitude’ decide who’s above and below you in the group, so a person’s ranking changes as the group members change. It’s ‘political’ in the sense that a person can never really ascend beyond what the collective social group decides someone is worth.
– The leader of something small is above their group, but is still lower than a leader of a larger group [who has greater assets and therefore higher ranking]. Many people are able to experience being a ‘big fish in a small pond’ when they lead a small group.
The value we assign each other in modern social cultures isn’t based on familial-piety, or any other sort of ancestral reverence, it’s based on money and/or power. And we all know that power corrupts. The thing about the social ladder, is that once you start climbing, you’re compelled to continue. The scale of servitude implies that there’s always someone above you, more ground to cover, more assets to acquire. So people become obsessed with it.
Even when wealth isn’t an option the ranks exist. Think of the show The Walking Dead. Rick became the leader when he arrived at his small group, and then several seasons later he’s a servant of the Saviors. The group changed, the scale increased. We find that there’s someone above them in the ranks; Someone with more power, more assets, and the means of using them to impose their commands onto you.
This is how our culture interacts.