There are many reasons for a breakdown in traditional community identification in the Western world. The most frequently observed tendency towards a globalisation of economic activity, is certainly a major factor. It encourages "multi-culturalism" in the pursuit of the most cost effective allocation of resources, while at the same time undermining our ability to resist many unfortunate side effects, both of a prevailing egalitarian mindset in the media and academia, and from an erosion of identity, resulting from other aspects of that general breakdown.
Other major contributors to a loss of community would include the homogenizing effect of a mass media, which can cause those easily influenced to adopt projected images derived from various forms of visual entertainment--even apart from specific ideological biases--and an explosive increase in geographic mobility. It is a confluence of the ideological biases in the media, academia and social institutions influenced by them, with that increase in geographic mobility, which has had the greatest impact in altering both traditional patterns of personal identification and our perception of the importance of such identifications as yet survive.
We have dealt with many of the resulting issues elsewhere. The main focus, here, will be on the concept of community, itself, and on what it means to its members, and to the larger political societies with which its members may be involved, or on which they may be to some degree dependent. Yet, first, we must define the key terms in our discussion. In just what sense are we using the term "community?"
Communities come in many forms and sizes--even degrees and intensities. The image of a small town or rural area, peopled by families of a common stock who have resided in the region for generations, where common values and common purpose are reasonably to be expected, is a useful construct--as well as an idealized image--but it is certainly not exclusive. A community may be a neighborhood in a larger town or city, where congenial families have settled more recently; with a sense of "community" drawn from common interests and a similar perspective on what is important. Or it may comprise two or more smaller communities, sharing a town, neighborhood or section, where despite differences in origin or attributes, there remains significant common ground. Yet a community may also have both a broader and/or more specialized base.
A broader community might include the members of a particular tribe--or the subset of a particular ethnic group, defused geographically. In that sense, a community is not likely to be exclusive of other more compact and specific subsets. Thus, Scottish mercenaries, serving on the European continent during the late Middle Ages, retained both an identity and loyalty to Clan and Nation, although serving other communities and sovereigns. Thus, Americans, since the Revolution, have had a broader identification with the shared concepts of the Founding Fathers--reflected in our foundational documents--while maintaining and/or developing more comprehensive, local community specific, sets of values and images to define an enormous, and sometimes quite different and conflicting, array of cultures and interests.
Career military, in almost every land, have an esprit de corps that creates a sense of community not confined to any specific district or region. This may sometimes supersede the community of their roots--although it need not, and in our view should not. (Robert E. Lee demonstrated the honorable course in resolving the potential conflict between the basic and constructive community.) Great mercantile establishments were once known to instill a similar sense of constructive community, not geographically confined, within the broader patterns of personal identification.
What a community, in any of the above senses, specifically is not, is an urban neighborhood afflicted with the now common variety of "multi-culturalism," where residents have been conditioned to avoid many subjects, in conversations with neighbors, lest they be misunderstood or provoke an untoward situation. Such neighborhoods bear the same relationship to the traditional community as does chaos to order. That is the same relationship, which the modern corporate conglomerate, farming out every service where a few dollars may be saved in the short run, bears to the great trading houses of past centuries. A "community" without cohesion is no community at all.
One of the most poorly named concepts in political or social analysis, in this age of fatuous verbal pontifications by propagandists and pseudo-intellectual poseurs, is what has come to be known as "multi-culturalism." While the actual intent may have been to undermine traditional cultures, dominant in various European lands and those settled by European peoples, no recognizable human culture is immune from the malady. The cultural integrity and continuity of no people has been served. This is especially evident, where the mere presence of those from very different backgrounds, heritages and lines of descent, in a community once identified with a particular people, is combined with a situation where, whether from legal requirement or circumstance, all are required to send their children to a common school system.
The concept of compulsory integration of local schools is a direct challenge to the ability of any constituent group to maintain a unique or distinctive culture. This would be more obvious, had we ever fully debated the whole complex of potential considerations, when the Warren Court launched a sustained Judicial effort to force completely integrated school systems across America. Unfortunately, the issue was framed on the basis of an egalitarian pursuit--the compulsive pursuit for uniformity (note essay on "Compulsion For Uniformity," below). Little or no attention was paid to any people's right or interest in preserving cultural continuity. The same may be said of the "Liberal" immigration policy, adopted in 1965, which actually favors incongruous populations over the ethnic origins of America.
Perhaps nothing will better illustrate the point, here, than a brief review of the social and demographic history of the United States. What is significant for our purpose, is not that the "cultural diversity" between the various British, Dutch, Irish, French and German communities, represented in Colonial America, was as extreme as the variation in human types evident in the swarms from the Third World, now pouring into a long settled United States; nor that the earlier differences were in anyway comparable to those of the present Third World emigrants from our rooted populations. Nor do we suggest that we continue to welcome either the current inrush, nor any other which would tend to change the character of our populations. No! The only point is the difference between respect and denial; between continuity and social chaos.
The diversity in Eighteenth Century America, while less than that between Americans and more recent arrivals, was nonetheless very real, reflected in many varied communities, often settled by congenial families motivated by a desire to have not so diverse neighbors. The settlement of New England, in contrast to that of Virginia and the Carolinas, is the most graphic case in point. The Roundheads and Cavaliers had been taking turns persecuting each other in England in the Seventeenth Century; indeed killing each other in the 1640s. It was then eminently reasonable that their cousins would seek their own communities here, where the unique values of each would be recognized and the neighbors remain congenial. The Puritan based communities in New England provided the culture that those who settled there desired, and the culture of Virginia reflected the values and personalities of the British gentry who settled there.
There is no reason why anyone with kind intentions should seek to alter such culturally based settlements, or seek to deny any group the right to congregate in neighborhoods with those for whom they feel a special affinity. The intolerance that seeks to proscribe such natural patterns of association, should be recognized for the bigotry that it is, regardless of the slogans employed.
We recall, in the 1950s, when the Social Anthropologist, Margaret Mead--made famous by distorting the sexual habits of the Polynesians on Samoa--advocated drafting girls into some form of service, to get them out of their home communities, so that the boys going into the Military would not have so strong an incentive to return to their roots! Prof. Mead was a product of the Boas school of Anthropology--the school that used propaganda to trivialize heredity and deny race--so she was no advocate of cultural integrity or continuity. But the article, in a major American weekly, should have been a wakeup call; not to embrace the lunacy of the writer, but to understand the neurotic need to undermine the traditional community. "Multi-Culturalism" is actually an attack on culture.
While, as noted, it is possible to identify a number of major contributing factors in the decline in both the strength and appreciation of community in America; there are several manifestations of the prevailing egalitarian dogma of the 20th Century, which have certainly augmented the thrust of those other factors, including the effects of globalisation and the changing patterns of domestic business and employment. Let us consider some of those relationships and the consequences for some of the very businesses supposed to benefit from globalisation.
The thrust of modern Egalitarianism has been to trivialize the differences between peoples and, as an inevitable aspect of that trivialization, the significance of the rooted community of people, with similar personal attributes and a common history, has been disparaged. Much of the process has been subtle--not so much in the form of direct attack on any community, but in a deliberate promotion of diversification. A major contributor to that diversification has come under the guise of promoting "Civil Rights"--statutory rights created by Legislatures, or litigation rights created by activist Judges--which actually make it illegal in many instances to prefer those with a common history, race or faith, over others.
Such new "rights, coupled with a shift in emphasis in education, to deliberately increase the variation in local school populations, have left many people reluctant to openly identify with those with whom they formerly shared a definite sense of community. Others have been left over-sensitized to bitterly resent any preference for anyone different from themselves, in areas where absent the promotion referred to, that preference would have been accepted as perfectly normal.
An excellent, yet by no means exclusive, demonstration would be to compare a typical Southern Community in the days of Booker T. Washington, with the situation today. Washington's succinct metaphor offers a picture of the different levels of community which, while not unique to the South, are more simply grasped in terms of White and Black culture in the South, than, by contrast, the more varied cultures of a large Northern metropolitan complex: "In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress." While equally applicable to many other once overlapping communities, an analysis of the breakdown in traditional communities to which Washington referred, may illustrate what has been happening to turn associations that were once positive, negative.
We have cited the explosion in out-of-wedlock births, which followed efforts to forcibly integrate the races in America, in other essays, and have referred to the effect as "Trashing Grandma" in at least one internet posting. Put any terms you like on what happened, the dynamics involved had the net result of drastically undermining our traditional sense of community identification.
In Washington's metaphor, there were formerly two distinct communities socially, but one overall community with common interests, as to those common interests. In each racial community, the wiser older folk guided the youth towards constructive behavior, with respect both for self and community. Then we "progressed" into the world of egalitarian delusion. In place of pride in doing what was right and seeking to earn community respect, failure became reason to blame others; success, something to apologize for. In place of studying one's family history to gain insights for the future, one learned to mouth egalitarian shibboleths, which had no basis whatsoever in reality. With the corruption of racial communities, the common communities broke down in blame and recrimination, as politicians promised wonderful things to the advocacy groups, which succeeded the shattered communities.
With the breakdown in the importance and viability of local communities, both from such socio-political causes and from the homogenizing influence of the mass media, it has become progressively easier for Corporate managers to rationalize outsourcing labor services and the relocation of physical facilities outside areas with which their companies were formerly identified. It is no longer fashionable to even sound parochial in relation to a traditional community, in either social or economic terms. Yet, in this changed climate, there is very little attention paid to the negative consequences. Immediate cost savings get the attention. But at what cost in real terms?
Consider the loss of community identification as it effects long term perceptions of the conglomerate. The effect goes to the question of loyalty, both to and from the Corporate entity. It replaces lifetime involvement with employees and customers, with the pursuit of advantage of the moment. It substitutes the immediate bottom line for the sort of loyalty of staff, clientele and neighborhood, which can sustain an enterprise in an unforeseen crisis. It also changes the political and cultural climate in a broader social order. In undermining a traditional congenial ethnic culture, both by encouraging Third World immigration and accepting egalitarian fantasies--with the legal strictures which egalitarians have imposed upon American business that make it actually illegal to prefer a rooted American to a recent emigrant from a non-European Nation--it jeopardizes the very survival of that level of economic freedom, which made America the economic marvel of the world.
Moreover, the growing practice of having telephone banks in India answer phone queries from customers, rather than handle such aspects of an ongoing business internally, will create a vulnerability to all sorts of future problems, for which there is no way to set a present value. Corporate management has careened along in reckless abandon of any sense of community responsibility--either to its traditional communities of operation or even, in many instances, to its very shareholders, often too scattered and defused to adequately protect their own interests, while top management award themselves with bonuses that would make even a super sports star envious.
Was there ever a more obvious example of those who were "penny-wise and pound-foolish?" Or one of greater self-indulgence since the French upper-classes toasted "after us the deluge," in the days of Louis XV? Why must human folly endlessly repeat itself--even among the, at least superficially, educated?
The consequences from the deterioration of traditional community identification are not limited to a diminution of loyalty to business associates, employers, employees, customers and suppliers. Indeed, in the greater scheme of things, these are probably the less serious consequences. In the sphere of politics, government and even cultural continuity (as a general concept), the greatest significance of the community is as the first and primary defense against Totalitarianism--particularly against a totalitarian compulsion for uniformity.
It was no accident that Mongol conquerors engaged in systematic slaughter in various regions, effectively terminating the cohesion of the communities afflicted. It was certainly no accident that Hitler's first major political move, after the contrived crisis that enabled his consolidation of socialist power, was to abolish States' Rights in Germany. Nor was it any mystery why the Bolshevik Communists, under Stalin, deliberately resettled ethnic Russians in other nation's homelands within the former Soviet Union--promoting a variety of the ethnic and cultural diversity, so beloved by modern American "Liberals" (whether of the confused or diabolical variety). Strong local and regional communities have been the primary defense against abuse of the political function--against the growth of centralized tyranny--throughout history.
Thus, when Louis XIV sought to centralize power in France, he corrupted the nobility from all parts of the realm by inviting them to a seductive social scene, created in and around the French Capital. Thus, nearer in time and place, those who seek to enlarge the power of the American Federal Government have attacked the rooted communities of the Southern States, partly as previously discussed; demonizing their values and traditions in ways parallel to those by which Stalin demonized the Kulaks, Marx & Hitler demonized German Jews, and the International Left demonized Rhodesia & South Africa.
It is tragic error to imagine that any written document, however well conceived, can long suffice to safeguard a people--or in the case of a large Federation, such as the United States, Germany or Russia, the atypical group, small State, or visible minority--without strong communities.
While many individuals, within a larger human aggregate, may have similar views--as, for example, the "Committees Of Correspondence" among community leaders in the respective Colonies that preceded the American Revolution--it is in a realization and expectation of community support that a realistic and executable concept for action or resistance is likely to take hold. Disparate individuals will simply lack capacity to act effectively in concert. On the other hand, those in control of a system of mass communication, who would consolidate power over such an aggregate, can create an artificial contrived community--in the true spirit of the mob--simply by manipulating the mood of a broader population.
To understand the concept of a "contrived community," one might imagine a stadium full of European soccer fans, spurred to almost religious fervor in the enthusiasm of a major contest. Or one might consider a carefully orchestrated Nazi rally, where the actual diversity of Germany was masked by putting even the laborers into military uniforms, while all in attendance were incited to chant in unison. It is significant that, despite the horrors that the war brought to Germany, there was no real uprising against Hitler. The destruction of any independent community thought in Germany had been too successful. The only attempt to avert the total disaster, which followed, arose in the German Officer Corps, where non-conformist interaction was yet possible.
Without strong communities, who share a common past, common geography, common values, hopes and Trust, the manipulators of mass sentiment will have their way. Consider the close, but largely unrecognized, parallel between the expansion of Central Power in Germany in the 1930s and in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s--both demonstrating the same tactic. In each case, the power seekers demonized a clearly identified culture and ethnic variation, to rally others to a common acceptance of more centralized, more intrusive Government. Hitler selected the German Jews, demonized by German Socialists, including Marx, for an entire Century. The American consolidators of power selected the unreconstructed White Southerners--the same target whom Marx's contemporaries in the Abolitionist and Reconstructionist movements had demonized in a previous attempt to centralize power in America.
While this analogy will be familiar to regular visitors, it may seem virtually incomprehensible to some who just happen to surf over for the first time. Yet, we suspect that it will find considerable acceptance by the Twenty-Second Century. This generation remains too bemused by compulsion driven rhetoric. But on the truly defining issues--the allocation of power, the willingness to allow or consider dissenting views, the toleration of truly independent local decision making--as opposed to the differing slogans of the respective proponents;--the Communists, Nazis, "Civil Rights" movement, and promoters of World Government, have all represented facets of a broader Socialist movement and ideology, seeking to orchestrate the human future. None of these groups, despite their protestations, have shown genuine respect for the actual diversity of Mankind. That would require abandonment of their respective ideological pursuits. (Different facets of this common thread have been explored in other essays, linked below.)
Those who see in the contemporary Bush foreign and immigration policies an exposition of human "freedom"--a term the President cannot define--might ask themselves why it is either necessary or desirable for American internationalists to sit in judgment on the internal institutions of other nations. Those who see the contemporary EU as an idealistic fulfillment, need to ask themselves why it is necessary for it to dictate to its constituent peoples as to their approach to sexuality, sex-roles, cultural differences, immigration, etc.. An economic union for the benefit of those included does not require social uniformity. Social fanaticism does.
We witness not the former automatons marching on May Day in Red Square, nor the staccato chants of a Nuremberg rally, yet the same tendency towards a new world order, where only one approach to the complexity of the human type or experience will be tolerated. Whether it is defined as "politically correct," or something else, it has stultified political thought in the West, creating taboos as restrictive as the fear of a Gestapo knock at one's door.
Those "Liberals" in America and Europe, who actually seek altruistic ends--to build a kinder, gentler human society--have been induced by those manipulating their fears and compulsions, to carry the figurative bricks and mortar to build a prison for Mankind. Yet the ostensive motive has little, if any, causal relationship to any imagined goal.
The proper--and obvious--approach to a reduction of cruelty and conflict in the world is to promote greater tolerance--to accept others as they are, not try to remake them to fit a subjective fantasy--and to focus on the actual conduct that is unjustified or disturbing. Man does not need ethnic identification to find reason to slaughter others. Attacking another's sense of self accomplishes nothing whatever of value.
Religious differences have provided even more "compelling" justification for barbarism, to those seeking such justification, than have differences in ethnicity. Yet attacks on religion do nothing towards promoting a better attitude towards others--rather precisely the opposite. Economic interests, even sporting rivalries have sufficed very nicely to rationalize savage behavior. The focus should not be on a contrived suppression of the awareness of our differences, but on an elevation of our conduct; not in an ostrich-like denial of reality, but in an appeal to our better natures. Pride in our origins and lines of descent; striving to measure up to an advancing cultural achievement, passed down to us, are powerful incentives that, properly understood, should appeal to those better natures.
It was not so very long ago that, in a poorly thought out indulgence, it was seen as sport to shoot hapless buffalo from moving railway carriages. The consequences were tragic--both for the buffalo and those Indian tribes who depended on the buffalo for meat and leather. Upon more mature reflection, laws were adopted to stop such senseless slaughter. It was not, however, necessary to make the buffalo citizens, or for us to join the herd or redefine either buffalo or humans, to establish a new common species or race, in order to deal with the unfortunate and inexcusable behavior.
Indeed, to anyone who truly respects either buffalo, humans or both, it should be obvious that confusing identity would be an insult to each, implying a far lesser significance to those traits, which in the real world define the particular subject. That, on the other hand, would reflect the very essence of socialist Totalitarianism, which is a negation of all meaningful individual or group identification distinct from a whole, as defined by the power of the totalitarians. Of course, the ultimate denial of reality has always been what Socialism was about.
The notion that it is kinder to persecute or suppress people who seek not to be absorbed in an undifferentiated humanity, but to be left alone to preserve their own lines of descent and cultural integrity, than to persecute people for other recognizable traits, completely escapes us. Cruelty is cruelty. It does not become more holy by being applied according to a Leftist hate list. From any altruistic or morally justifiable standpoint, the differences between persecuting people for happening to be different, and persecuting people for wanting to preserve what is unique in themselves, are idiosyncratic not substantive. On the other hand, for the purpose of the would-be totalitarian, they are immense. It is for daring to exercise independent volition, that the latter are targeted.
Functionally, the international lynching of Rhodesia in the 1970s and the international hue and cry against the continued independence of an Afrikaner and British nation in South Africa in the 1980s and early '90s, served precisely the same practical purpose for those who would consolidate power across traditional national and community lines, as Stalin's butchery of the Kulaks or Hitler's massacre of European Jews. That the former were represented by propagandists of the Left as serving an exactly opposite purpose can not disguise what was actually taking place: A deliberate persecution deemed useful in a totalitarian pursuit. But the more recent 'spin-masters' of the internationalists are no more entitled to blind acceptance than were the earlier 'spin-masters' of the Communists and National Socialists.
That those targeted, in each case, were "high achievers," with mental qualities that enabled them to challenge the intellectual pretenses of their attackers, should not be overlooked.
Certainly as important, in terms of the human condition, is the effect of the loss of traditional communities on the pursuit of happiness. This is reflected in both our sense of proper purpose and in our sense of general well-being with our pattern of personal associations. It also has many subtle undertones.
While there are rare individuals, who are sufficiently self-motivated to do what is right without external reinforcement, the norm is quite different. Most people have a major dependence on outside reinforcement to discipline themselves as to what they ought or ought not to do. This will reflect particular patterns of social identification. People are far more inclined to try to satisfy a perceived standard derived from group mores, than any directed by their own reason. Even those Japanese soldiers who remained steadfast at solitary island posts for decades after the end of World War II, without any human interaction, were drawing on past experience and identification with a homogeneous racial community. Their dedication was a reflection of the strength of community derived values--reflections of an ancient heritage, passed down through the generations.
One of the most far-fetched myths of the present era, is that there is an advantage in inflicting cultural diversity on children in their formative years. From what is that benefit supposed to derive? We do not question that travel in other lands has an educational benefit at any age--or that meeting people with different insights may not serve to open eyes to different concepts. But this is not what the Egalitarian Left has promoted in America or Europe! What has been proffered is the lunacy that has contributed to the destruction of local communities; to the denigration of pride in one's lines of descent and the effort to measure up to the standards and mores of the group with which one identifies. Modern "Liberalism" is to actual mutual respect in the study of other cultures, what it is to genuine freedom and tolerance--a 180 degree deviation.
We have commented on the disastrous effect of the "Civil Rights" movement on American society, from the explosion in illegitimacy (or better stated, implosion of the traditional family), to the conversion of local communities into groupings of discontent and animosity, rather than good and cooperative neighbors. The introduction of "multi-culturalism," coupled with egalitarian shibboleths, has not just created a climate where politicians could appeal to the basest emotions of different groups. It has undermined the ability of each afflicted group to pass on its unique cultural achievements--its particular "know-how" to its own children. The way American History is taught today, contrasted with a Century ago, would be one example. There is far less attention paid to what was actually unique about the various settler communities, and certainly less attention to how various observable European types influenced the history that followed.
Rather than learning to respect each faction, there is actual stigmatization of those who best preserve a sense of continuity. This can only be destructive of our efforts to preserve any American way of life. But in its effect on youth, growing up in families whose heritage is under incessant attack, because it does not fit the prevailing dogma of the media, academia and office-holding sycophants, who parrot a fashionable line; it denies the comfort of a strong identification with honorable and purposeful forebears; denies a major source of moral instruction and positive motivation, derived from that sense of what is honorable and purposeful, seen as a family treasure; the sense of being at least a small part of something noble.
Others have pointed out the value of children's folk tales; their music, folk songs and how they celebrate holidays, or handle personal tragedy. The homogenization of cultures strips much of the essence out of everything churned into the mix. By contrast, it adds very little. A churning is not a building process. Passing down a unique yet growing body of cultural achievement, from generation to generation, is. Nothing that we say implies any problem with peoples' borrowing from one another; implies that we or they cannot enjoy any and every form of cultural achievement. But to interfere with any people's passing their particular achievements down through their own lines of descent, in the name of promoting "multi-culturalism," or some fantasy about human equality, constitutes the epitome' of intolerance.
Finally, we come back to our point about political consequences. Since human types, each to a greater or lesser degree, exhibit a need for some group identification to feel complete, the substitution of contrived identification for the independent communities, discussed early in this essay, opens the way to a Totalitarian age. Those able to manipulate mass communications will have the ability to create communities of the moment, ripe for demagogic exploitation. In an earlier cosmopolitan age, the Roman Republic collapsed into an "Age of the Caesars." In trying to force nonsensical Egalitarian norms based upon a denial of human differences upon Mankind, the modern "Liberal" may well doom humanity to an "Age of Lenins & Hitlers." We fail to stop him at our children's peril.