Friday, February 4, 2011

Community versus Collective

“But the primitive society is a community, springing from common origins, composed of reciprocating persons, and growing from within.  It is not a collective.  Collectives emerge in civilization; they are functional to specialized ends, and they generate a sense of being imposed from without.  They are objectively perceived, objectifying and estranging structures […] A collective has the form of a community but lacks the substance; it is involved with the concept “public,” which is not at all the same as the idea of the social.  The fully functioning, highly individuated member of society is the antithesis of the public man [sic.].”  --Stanley Diamond, In Search of the Primitive: A Critique of Civilization.

A collective is a tool, a social technology, an organizational structure, a machine designed to facilitate the pursuit of ends—ends not necessarily shared in equal measure by each participant.  In that sense a collective is no different from any other bureaucratic institution, easily usurped and redirected by the power elite. Collectives are thus useful only in the short term, as a first line of attack, perhaps.

A community is an organic process.  It is not a tool for achieving ends.  It is its own end.  It is therefore immune to usurpation by power and cannot be redirected from without.  To be conquered it must be destroyed.  It is for this reason that the power elite so frequently resorts to genocide.

We need to be nurturing our evolved predilections for community.  Yes we are individuals.  But we are not autonomous and independent nodes in some abstract network.   Community is where the true strength of the primitive lies.  

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