Examine the ontology of any profession. Even you, Volunteer, are in training for a genius and fickle hierarchy designed to make you aspire. Max Weber, the famous sociologist, called such a phenomenon a "rational formalization of society."
It is inescapable, both attainable and yet out of your reach — at least until you are urged to the next level. The grading system which public education has used to judge your worth is a training ground for the coming years; are you an A student, a B student, or a C student? It is always rational, calculating, and cold about you and your human body.
Even the social safety nets embody a cold and calculating scrutiny. How much do you make? How much, mathematically, are you worth to civilization? Do you need help, or are you better left to your own devices? This is the nature of political debates, ruinous to one's ego.
Hierarchy and power are everywhere, as the French philosopher Foucault once said. Certain strains of philosophical thought have come up with the idea of the "matrix of domination" by which any number of circumstances come to dominate our roles in life; calling us to ruin by restricting our free will and damning us to servitude or authorship, hell or high water, love or callousness. An exposition of the paradigm in which we live and work, without choice, can only be beneficial.
Hierarchy is everywhere; and by your own being, you strive for its continuance. If you work for an office, company, or nation it is present. It is the presidential concept which rules you no matter your income. You have been rationalized.
You have been afforded a certain element of worth: the ability to perform, to give, to produce, to give yourself unto an almighty coffer rather than work for yourself. This is capitalism and capitalism will devour you.
But let us be more philosophical.
After graduation, you will work for a company if you are lucky. You will begin in an opening position, a position for youth, with all your confidence and all your knowledge. You will think yourself knowledgeable and will thereby be philosophically ruined. You will walk into the company's door and will learn to recognize your position in the hierarchy.
You are small in the grand scheme of things, and as unconscious company policy, you will recognize your own lack of worth within that company until you prove yourself. It will be a hard few years. And then a hard few years' more. This is capitalism. This is philosophy. This is what old souls do. You are labor-form with a fresh face.
This is how authority extracts from thoughtful youth their labor, this is how they use the brightest among their peers and exploit them. And after working for the capital for a few years, months, or days, you too will come to think of yourself as an object, a personified status in a hierarchy, a resource.
You will be a body of cells in a corporate body of ideals and will learn not to differentiate between the two. You will lose your high ideals and will replace them with the numbers on your paycheck — and those will be more limited than your ideals. You will come to think of yourself not as a grade, library, a composite of philosophical ideals, a child, or a parent, but as a number.
Weber's rational formalization will come to fruition as you, whatever your name is. And when that moment comes, I ask you, Volunteer, to remember your hierarchy, and to recall always that hierarchy is only a social construction, an evidence of social humanity — and that it too can be dismantled if only you desire it. Or, if it benefits you, you need not dismantle it so long as you aid your fellow man along the way.
And, by the way, you might want to Google search a certain Frederick Winslow Taylor.
Jeremy Brunger is a senior in English. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.