So now you’re in charge and I’m doing everything you need or want me to. Sounds great. Except is that really the existence you were looking for? It’s just you and me and really I’m only recognizing you because you made me. Wouldn’t you rather be acknowledged by an equal? Time for synthesis:
Synthesis: Consciousness of other as self; consciousness of not-self as self; Thinking of the other in terms of the self.
Steinhart refers to this as “the symmetry of cooperation” — it’s time for us to acknowledge that we depend on one another. I, the slave, depend on you allowing me to live. You, the master, depend on all the stuff I do for you. And, because I’m doing all of that stuff, I get really good at…stuff. I develop skills and discipline. You, on the other hand, are fat and lazy at this point. You are free, but dependent. I am in servitude, but independent.
As such, it’s now time to cooperate fully. You are still the master and I, the slave. But I’ve become quite the craftsperson at this point and can withhold my services to some extent if I don’t like the way you’re being. You, in turn, are forced to develop your own craft and expertise. Voila! As Steinhart writes, “Political domination turns into economic cooperation.”
Obviously, this is not applicable to any and all political and economic interactions. But it’s an important starting point for what I’m going to get into next.