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The Quest for Community
Chapter 6: Sovereignty and Association
What can we say we’ve learned so far on our “Quest for Community”? Let’s review:
- There has been a fracturing, and a general loss of community over time in Western culture, particularly in the USA.
- Community is important because it is how people lead healthy and meaningful lives and become better people. Many have tried to avoid any and all communal interactions and failed because it doesn’t work. Community is hard but it’s non-negotiable for most of us on some level. It’s vocabulary and values are integration, status, security, membership, hierarchy, symbol, norm, identification, and group. It’s opposite vocabulary and values are dissolution, abstraction, atomization and insecurity.
- Community has always been challenging, and has always been a problem to be solved, because men and women can’t live completely alone but living with each other creates its own set of problems.
- There has been a gigantic displacement of belonging in modern Western culture, which has had traumatic consequences for the world we live in.
- History itself could be seen the decline of community. The historical growth of individualism is not without its positives but on the whole the loss of community has caused great suffering and damage because individualism only exists in a communal setting.
- The growth of the State’s influence, size, and power can be seen as the primary cause of the loss of community, but also a response to it.
- The State itself can be seen as the political embodiment of revolution. The State displaces tangible, meaningful, historical, subsidiary, and concrete forms of community like families, towns, villages, parishes, churches, clans, and associations then responds by growing in influence, size, and power.
This brings us to Chapter 6, in Robert Nisbet’s classic work: The Quest for Community, entitled “Sovereignty and Association.”
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