First post of the New Year, and as always we are confronted with a continuation of everything as it is. Today I was working for the Tree Service from home. I went out to the shops to buy tea and yoghurt, and found myself pondering on the odd interactions we have with cashiers and other shop staff. Money, it turns out, is a way of relating to other people. It allows us to have very brief, functional interactions. The money does the talking for us, and all it says is: I have the right to your services. It facilitates an atomised life which we can glide through without forming deep relationships of any kind, unless we choose to.
About this I have mixed feelings. On the one hand I find myself in despair at the idea this is the only way to live, and at the lack of ability to imagine other ways of living. On the other hand I notice the benefits I get from this system: I have taken full advantage of the ability to form relationships only with those I choose to. My circles are interesting because I have chosen those who interest me. Another economic and social system might well force us to interact with those we don’t wish to. The spectre of the repressive community raises its head, and I remember that I find the views of the majority of people either misguided or abhorent in some quite significant ways. If I were forced into relationships with these people, what horrible frictions might occur? If they decided to bring back the stocks, wouldn’t I be in them?
Perhaps where our imaginations have truly failed is in thinking of newly-social systems that can maintain the advantages of the individualistic society while challenging the loneliness and stress and inequality and mental health problems that inevitably come with it. I say ‘inevitably’, because I feel we are a fundamentally social and cooperative species, and going against this part of ourselves is bound to cause problems. But this is a minority viewpoint I suspect: most people, at least in London, believe us to be fundamentally selfish and grasping. This highlights the contradiction within my own position: I assert our social nature because I have taken advantage of the individualistic society. And so the years roll on. But not forever.