Hierarchies rule us

Hierarchies like social phenomena can be attacked culturally, for instance, through laws and democratic reforms; however, attitudes that create hierarchies cannot. These seem to be ineradicable. Even though the fear of strangers is often basically unmotivated – more people are nicer than you think – xenophobia lives on.

The same inevitable basic pattern follows from the urge to divide people into social classes. Is there really a working class? Isn’t it simply a figment of the imagination? Obviously, I don’t mean the actual existence of this category in working life, but rather intellectually placing it in a hierarchy.

Hierarchisation seems to be a genuinely natural phenomenon. Consider the (impossible) idea of putting an end to the awarding of prizes in competitions. Try taking away first prize, second prize, third prize! The whole point is to have a hierarchy. In Swedish, tävling, the word for competition, comes from the Latin tabula, m...

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