is the Key to
the Gated Society
The Principles of
The Sociology of Socializing
To be social, humanity must interact with itself. One person or group of people must mix and exchange within a larger group. Any type of "socializing" is going to require other people, whether it is among friends or potential lovers. It is an instinct born in the villages and cities of every continent, a noticeable trend of social organization in every civilization. To be with other people in a way that allows mutual stimulation -- emotional, intellectual, even physical and sexual. This has been the cornerstone that defines "society:" our willingness to engage in and become fascinated by interacting with each other.
Within Capitalism, socializing is given its owns defined dimension. As all of the land has been claimed as property by some landlord, the first part of socialization is finding a place to do it. While some social interaction occurs at home and work, these are not considered the ideal places. One is largely a place of rest, the other is one of labor. Human beings need something that lets them forget the stress and the deadening quality that comes with being a marginalized laborer. This is true whether it's the "intellectual labor" of putting together a marketing plan, or the physical labor of housing construction. Sometimes, a leisurely activity in the home is simply not enough, and the individual needs a completely new environment to lift off the mindset of work.
Any form of entertainment will do, but in human society, there is rarely any form that exists that doesn't involve some form of socializing. Even the act of luxury, when done in solitary, is itself a reflection of the preference for human interaction Consider the lonely drinker at the bar, who only speaks to order more beer. In the warm, deep bosom of intoxication, isn't this individual recalling memories of old loves and comrades? Or imagining fantasies involving the activity and behavior of other people?
One must not rely entirely on the public sphere to demonstrate this fact. The poet writes ideas involving people, and where nature enters the realm, the ideas considered are those most alluring to humanity. Even though writing is a completely solitary activity, it is given its meaning and purpose by making an estimation of humanity -- how they will judge and how they will react, how they are pleased and how they are convinced. The painter who swoons over the natural beauty of the world often feels it a duty to express it such vivid colors that catch the human eye -- they act as a magnifier of nature's glory, but it is a magnification for people.
Opening the Gate
To have access to any of these social environments, even for the right to sit and sulk at a bar table, one must have the key that gets them past the gate. In Capitalism, the gate is private property, and money is the key. Could anyone feel relaxed and de-stressed in any social environment without paying? It's unlikely. A bar or a tavern, a restaurant or a pool hall, a club or an event -- there are few that would tolerate any person who simply wants to observe without paying. The more costly the establishment, the less likelihood of tolerating those who are not willing to pay. And the more costly it is, the less of a chance that people in general will even be able to pay.
This produces a narrowing effect. Every person, no matter what range of income they may have, is restricted to particular places of socializing. It is true that the individual may be able to afford more costly socializing-space by going to some place once a month instead of a cheaper place once a week. But for whatever given person's individual tastes, there is only so much that they can purchase and only so much free time to enjoy. Even if they could save their funds for a single night out on the town, it wouldn't really be practical according to human needs in general: we continually need rest and relaxation.
While there is no upward mobility, there is downward mobility. The person who can afford the most costly and expensive tavern in town will be welcomed wholeheartedly at any of the cheaper places. For the wealthiest person, the entire city is their pearl. But, this can be seen in the lower echelons of the social groups, as well. A moderate spender will be welcome at a cheap and inexpensive place. Every individual, then, who can afford their own level of social interaction will be able to afford all cheaper levels.
However, despite the option for downward mobility, people still have a tendency to waver around whatever social group they feel that they fit into. There may be some variation, as curiosity and interest will forever being driving forces of human activity. But the individual person naturally attaches themselves socially to something that they feel already represents them.
Consider where the individual may very well radically place themselves out of their own accepted, social sphere. The individuals that they meet, the people they befriend, and all potential mates, reproductive and otherwise, are -- likewise -- limited to their own social sphere, or their own social sphere and below. So, while a wealthy person may be able to mix at the dirtiest and meanest bars, they will not be able to bring their newly-won friends to their up-class restaurants, their costly taverns, and the other outlets of their own social sphere.
This produces an inoculating effect, where every social class repels those of below, while at the same time, restricting its own members from going above. It is not even an intentional act of the participating members of any of these groups. Rather, it is a mass effect, like society itself, which is not explainable by looking at each person individually -- but only by looking at them as classes and groups bound by particular, 'boundary' attributes. Mixing with those in a lower class is not as much of an option, because this 'lower class' would not be able to appreciate the most costly, upper-class outlets. And likewise, mixing with the upper class is not an option either -- because of expense and limitations of income, which are the attributes defining these social groups.
The Self-Dominating Society
The members of this society, no matter what class, do not dominate. It is the society that dominates, and it is produced as much by the ambitions of those on top, as it is by the submission of those on the bottom. Even for those who have the greatest wealth, who are considered to have the most unbreakable power, they too must bow before the rules of a system that brought them to the top. The rules that produce this society are simply those of Capitalism. Social divisions that are unapproachable, like these, are produced by economic divisions that are similarly unapproachable.
There is a bottom class and a top class in socializing circles, because there is a Capitalist class that possesses all of society's productive wealth; and by this possession, they can force any person to work for them. This is so, because there is no person that can live without bread, and the opportunity allowed the poor for something else is notoriously little. A slave would have a better chance of escaping from a plantation than an individual worker managing to free themselves from the tyranny of this system on their own, because while chattel slavery technically does not exist -- the property of land allows something like it to continue.
The effect of Capitalism in socializing, then, ought to be clear. It divides and separates people. We already know this in the workplace, where the individual must labor and cooperate with co-workers and a manager. But now we must know this even more in the leisure time that comes after work. At the job, the individual collaborates with those on the same economic level -- whether it's the peon pushing crates in a warehouse or the physician that treats cancer patients. But when it comes to our personal time, when we are trying to recover from the pains incurred during work, we likewise are bound by the same restrictions.
It is normal for the job for provide interaction with those on equal footing economically, as it is one's bargaining power in the economy that determines their income. But when it comes to expressing an admiration for the beauty of music or the intensity of art -- the suffering poured in the pages of Tolstoy's War and Peace, the vivid and psychedelic colors of Van Gogh's paintings -- when it comes to providing an outlet to imagination and a projection of hope or want, it is specifically directed at those of the same economic footing. This occurs because of the divisions caused by Capitalism throughout socializing circles.
This is not to say that one class possesses art skills, mind power, and an impulse for reading intelligent literature. On the contrary, such skills and attributes are widely distributed across all economic classes, though they become less and less necessary the higher one goes up the chain. The wealthiest people in the world do not manage their money -- they pay people who are better at it to do that. That's the mark of prudence in the ruling class of the economy.
People are divided naturally by their interests from each other. Whether it is an intellectual pursuit, like art or biology, or it is a social pursuit, like sports and drinking, people can be classed by habits, desires, and preferences. When it comes to the gated society of Capitalism, though, they are not organized into social units according to these preferences. They are organized simply by their income and earning potential, which is not the work of any one person or group of people, but rather the logical outcome of a system based on class exploitation.
The result is like the caste-based society of India. While there are upper castes, there are lower castes, too, such as the "Untouchables," -- it is considered taboo for those of "upper castes" to interact with such a group. Capitalism, in effect, places a person into an income bracket, and then when it comes to that individual enjoying themselves in their free time, they're thrown into an environment of those with the same income bracket. It really is a lottery whether someone finds the people they are looking for within this group.
It is as though each person in society is given a ticket with a rank, and upon presenting this ticket, they will be allowed sufficient services and goods. But vendors can only provide to those with a specific ticket ranking, or one greater than the required rank. Some may object to this view, saying that one obtains their ticket by what they do for society, providing some justification. However, this proves my point all the more. Those with the lowest ranking, with the same economic footing, fit into the same niches in the economy. They provide the same range of services, just as the unclean "Eta" class of Japan were responsible for every degrading occupations -- police officers to animal butchers. [*1]
Those with higher ticket rankings, likewise, provide more respectable and easier jobs, until at the very top, those who possess the most provide absolutely nothing to society. Here the aspects of the ticket system become far more painfully apparent and the divisions of capitalism within social class become far more certain. Socializing and society within Capitalism then are little more than artificial interactions set up by dominance of those on top of society. Interacting with human beings, then, is not a representation of that innate desire and impulse -- to feel for someone else, and to be felt for by someone else. Instead, it is the result of a need to release stress, and the interaction is set up not according to those whom relate to us the best as people, but those who by chance apparently fall within our social category.
*1. "The Eta Movement," by Sen Katayama, from The Communist International, 1924, No. 28, pages 118-128.