Thursday, November 22, 2012

On the capitalism of friendship

"Whereas closed romantic relationships are mutual slavery, in friendship a free capitalism reigns. Favors are exchanged for favors. Secrets are exchanged for secrets. Balance must be guarded tightly, lest suspicion arise. Your time and resources limit the amount of friendship you may buy from the market of human relations; you may only have a few deep relations or several more superficial ones. If you become closer with somebody in particular, other relations immediately suffer. Most of the time, there is someone more important for you than you are for her, and vice versa.
"Often friendship relations are hierarchical--you have a best friend, second best friend, and so on. Different social hierarchies also penetrate these relations...Friendship is a continuous battlefield, where you must earn your place...You must earn your friends every day, and you may lose your social status overnight...With time, these relations become more stable, but low-intensity warfare does not mean peace...Loneliness means that you have been defeated in the war of human relations. You have put too much of yourself in one or two main relationships that failed...
"...We who desire the end of capitalism often fail to see how deeply its model of action is embedded into human society. There is no fundamental difference between that and an exchange that involves money and barter. If friendship and love is about barter as well, what hope is there to get rid of capitalism?"
--Antti R., Letters IV

Relevant to my life for two separate points:

A) Because EY and I always tease JA about being a bad friendship investment. (She's not. She's just electronic-forms-of-communication-challenged.)

B) Because there are a couple of friendships in my life that I in right now, like one side or the other is giving or taking too much, like we're struggling to find a middle ground at which to happily meet. There are other relationships I want to do more to cultivate into a fullness they're currently lacking. Yeah, friendship is probably capitalism, but if we're not getting out what we're putting in, then capitalism is hurting us as much here as it does anywhere else.

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