Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Communitarianism


I have decided to start a separate blog based on my "comment conversation" from my recent blog on Government Morality and Ethics. I think my brilliant young friend from Australia who comes from more socialist leanings than I do has put me on to my new favorite concept of government..."Communitarianism". Lets see how some of the rest of you react to this new form of government compared to what we have known in our lifetimes.

Actually, I'm not so sure it is such a "new" form of government as I think it would be simply reverting back to the beginnings of the human race and how everyone grew and prospered in simpler times. If you study evolution or even Creationism...you start with genealogies of families or "clans" who developed in various specific areas of the world. Before there was such a thing as "nation states", there were clans or families. These clans then slowly grew into "tribes" of people sharing space and community in a joint effort to protect each other and share common values as a race or culture. These tended to be tightly knit groups of families who worked together, traded together, and protected each other. There was a strong sense of identity and belonging in these smaller tribes of people that gave pride and order to their lives.

I think this sense of family or clan is the soul that is missing in our current world order. Especially with the rise of the industrial societies, we have become totally focused on work, production, profit and consumerism that goes with it to the demise of our sense of belonging or responsibility to our families. If we lose the connection of family, it seems quite logical to me that we lose our sense of community or belonging at all levels.

One of the attractions for me to Latin culture over my past 30 years of exposure to it has been the sense of strong family ties and traditions. Latins fight and argue amongst each other with the best of them, but at the end of the day they will defend each other against "outsiders" to the end of time. If you go to the malls or town plazas, you notice younger and older family members communicating arm in arm and a level of respect and communication between generations that is somewhat lost in many first world cultures. Many of these people are poor as hades, but they are rich in friends and family connections...something that I feel is being lost in many consumerism driven cultures. Unfortunately it is changing bit by bit everywhere based on new media role models for youth cultures. But I digress...the main point here is that communitarianism starts with strong family ties and multi generational understanding.

Communitarianism is different from socialism in my mind. In a family or "community" you have a sense of belonging and mutual responsibility. Parents or the elderly tend to show the way for the younger members and while they are usually willing to give help, loans, etc...it is usually tied to a sense of responsibility to repay or at least report back on how the money is being used and is bettering the life of the younger borrower. Most social systems I know of tend to reward all equally no matter their lifestyles or "use of communal assets". "Redistribution" of assets is looked at more as a "right" than a "gift" or loan. The sense of entitlement without real merit always baffles me in a society such as a socialistic one.

Personally I believe that the best answer to our current global economic and political problems is "Communitarianism". Many individuals who suddenly find themselves without jobs, money and even housing or food are going to have to rely more on family...and yes, the social systems that exist at various levels to support the broken. Yet, I predict that the current global crisis is going to bust many of the worlds social systems and when this happens people are going to be forced back to their families and people that know them...in community. Micro economies always move faster to change and improve on business objectives than macro ones. It is faster and easier to get PRIVATE loans or support from people that know you than to get "public" support...at least for responsible people. These times are forcing more people of "like minds" to band together to pursue objectives or find solutions to their dilemmas. In the long run, this may have the positive impact of reconnecting individuals to community and a sense of responsibility for their actions and productivity within that community. I at least hope it does.

Communitarianism beats Capitalism as its not just focused on money or material goods. Communitarianism beats Socialism because it is not an one-sided, unhealthy, expensive relationship between government and the governed in a huge dance of co-dependency. Obviously it beats out totalitarianism and communism as it does not depend on some dictator to control everything and tell the people what they can do when and where. It is a system that is free yet responsible, productive yet humane, and brings up everyone to a common level more quickly than any other system I can think of. The best thing is this is an easy movement to join. Simply figure out in your immediate environment who you can help, and who can help you help others. If the strong can assist the weak in a strong sense of community, all of our quality of living and security will be enhanced within that community.

This system can help better governments, companies, small businesses, and even family relationships.

3 comments:

Timothy said...

Hey Ed,

I'm a bit late to the party with this post (uni exams etc.), but I really enjoyed reading through it. Communitarianism certainly is a nice perpsective, and various aspects of it remind me of Jesus' "kingdom of God" type of social organisation. However, as with everything else, there is a danger that it will descend into alot of violence if you define it as grouping society into clans/tribes. As you mentioned in the post, families stick together against "outsiders". In any political structure politicians try to sell the idea that their are outsiders threatening to kill us if we don't adopt this or that policy.

I like to view communitarianism as the 'values' that underpin my kind of socialism. It has alot of sympathy for leftist economic issues, but shares some cultural/ethical beliefs with conservatives (i.e. character education and faith-based programs). In this sense communitarianism has been called by some as the "radical centre".

edward said...

I think we are seeing things fairly closely Tim. Mostly a matter of "semantics". The word "Socialism" just represents too many negatives for me. I see Communitarianism as a more basic form of socialism where everyone has to take responsibility for themselves...and then for those closest to them. Sure...this has historically bred a certain amount of paranoid small groups or political structures...but I don't think it HAS to be that way anymore than Socialism has to include a security blanket for any member of society who just wants to sit around and do nothing while expecting income and food on the table. I'll take the "radical centre" I guess :)

edward said...

Oh...and I promised to post some comments from my friend Bill A who it seems cant get Microsoft to recognize his sign-on for comments...he obviously is coming from another perspective:)

He writes...

Are you kidding me? Sounds like back in the 60's when hips were living in communes. Yea, I skated the course of being a hippie until I finally rationalized that it was a bunch of crap. The problem is, we have Pelosi, Reid, Kennedy and other radical 60's dumb f**** that are trying to take this country down the tubes.

Ed, I've relayed to you over the last year that this Obama is of the Marxist leaning and that is his agenda. Okay, call me crazy or whatever but when did you ever think that the federal government would take over private companies as we have recently experienced.

Not to mention the liberal health care (sorry, nationalized health care) and this horrid Cap and Trade fiasco tax on a ridiculous "global warming" hoax. Have you read any of the bills?

Okay, you lambs.....let yourselves be led to the slaughter. It is coming your way.

When the so hated capitalist system is defeated and prices, interests rates, utility bills, real estate, food and all necessary goods become priced out of reach of the common person.........sit back and be proud that you helped this nation go bankrupt and that you may have shaved one tenth of a degree off of global temperatures.

My mistake, the temperatures have been reclining over the last eight years. Damn.