Ideally, social status woukd be derived from socially useful performance. But, that is not how the world of the U.S. Male works. Status is laregly related to subservience and subservience is the product of dominance.
I have been struck that the most well-intentioned get it wrong. Consider Martin Luther King, Jr. What did he want for his children? Not that they would be valued for their performance or achievements, but for “the content of their character.” He wished for them to be judged on the basis of an invisible attribute, rather than the complexion of their skin.
It is an unrealistic expectation. What it tells us is that MLK was not averse to irrational judgement and certainly not opposed to judging, as such. That he fixated on an invisible quantum, character, shows him to have been on the right track and simply mistaking one un-observable,”performance,” for another, “character.” Of course, performance to make the invisible visible is the goal of the artist. Perhaps the preacher as well.
The problem with substituting subservience for performance in social relations is that non-performance or poor performance goes unrecognized. How much of our meterial decline is a consequence of poor performance, if not outright theft, rather than corporate structure having proved inadequate and the benefits of economies of scale having run out? Are ass-kissing and bullying to blame for economic decline? Is economic decline bringing the flaw inherent in subservience home? Does subsevience undermine material success because of the resentment it spawns?
The definition of the economy in monetary terms has concealed that the U.S.has experienced a significant material decline in real terms. Crumbling infrastructure, derelict factories and residential areas, decreasing life expectancy, decreasing male fertility, increasing chronic disease, increasing pollution and waste all attest to that.