Brett Williams's Reviews > Community and Tradition: Conservative Perspectives on the American Experience

Community and Tradition by George W. Carey
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it was amazing

We’re in big trouble

Vast in scope, concepts and depth this book is revealing of what should be obvious, but habits long since axiomatic are invisible to those of us practicing them. Coordinated by a world sage on this matter, Georgetown University’s, George W. Carey, the book is a series of essays by various authors. Occasionally an author sounds to be preaching the good old time religion, ignoring its contradictions, but overall this is a spectacular text – regularly breathless - about the demise of communities in America. Suggestions in restructuring are made to recover communities if we even desire deep human connectedness anymore, which is questionable. Missing are the effects of prosperity. Observation implies communities pull together in scarcity as long as it’s not too severe. And though Leakey’s central tenet for human survival is socialization, required by scarcity, it seems with prosperity we dissolve associations with equally natural tendencies – unless this is simply masked by hypotheses submitted in this book.

Historically beginning with the “New Republic’s” founder, Herbert Croly and his “Promise Of American Life” in 1909 (a strong influence on FDR), the authors survey these past and present opponents to their traditional, conservative approach to communities vs. Robert Nisbet, Tocqueville, etc. Those opponents are progressive liberals with utopian notions of harmony and unity through force of central government intrusion to “make us better people” for the greater good, which is also a goal of these conservatives, sounding opposed to “too much” individualism. Clearly humans need regulating, but how and how much are points of central contention between both parties. Progressives in this book appear well meaning, idealistic and as out of touch with human nature as communist or sociologists, promoting forced fellowship, rather than natural human fellowship as messy and time consuming as it is.

Doing for our heart and souls what forever feasting on fatty foods and television does for body and mind, modern communitarianism has - with the best of intentions that have become dogmatic – atomized us through two primary avenues. According to the authors, one is centralization of government assuming increasingly more of our lives once managed by face-to-face associations of people with vested interests in their community – not by distant strangers wrapped in legalese in far away bureaucracies. For example, when government hands out free food and finances, what need is there of local churches to care for their needy? Government’s accomplice is an ever-expanding umbrella of “rights.” Communities can no longer impose their will on members as this infringes upon individual rights. Today in America, parents may no longer intervene as council, guidance or command against their daughter’s abortion. So much for the very kernel of society, a voluntary association if ever there was one, the family - now subordinated to individual rights as enforced by a court outside the home (assisted by society’s view of fathers as dangerous, requiring protection by the State). We find that our “national community” (a nebulous abstraction) has created as sanction for its action, “social contract theory” - the idea we are collections of atoms, distant and removed from one another, bound by the weak gravity of legal contracts, not common sentiments and principles. We now require government to do what it cannot as it encroaches in the name of the people, “for the people,” not “by the people.” As national community continues to fail we demand more of the same from the same inappropriate entity. Though traditional communities advanced by the authors may be stifling to the higher minds of true artists and genius, almost no one is either, especially in oligarchies where talents are absorbed by primal urge or never developed. Conservative or liberal, a massively important book.

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Quotes Brett Liked

“Common culture is in disrepute because many believe our Western tradition has promoted uniquely oppressive and imperialistic attitudes and practices. But it remains the case that no community can exist unless the people in it share important aspects of their lives in common.”
George W. Carey, Community and Tradition: Conservative Perspectives on the American Experience

Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 20, 2014 – Shelved

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