Rod Dreher

Sharon Astyk has been reading a guy who points out that there are a lot of people who talk about how great it would be if we had community instead of a mass society of individuals, but who don’t want to make the sacrifices necessary to have a real community. She agrees, but points out that it’s not simply a matter of people being too lazy to commit themselves to community building. We live in an economic system that compels many of us to commit our time and energy to paying the bills instead of doing the kinds of things that build real community. Excerpt:

I don’t deny that we’re afraid of community. I don’t deny that many of us who try burn out from exhaustion and others just don’t want other people in our lives. I think Greer’s point that we have to be willing to pay the price – to deal with the fact that community doesn’t just mean working together, it means putting in the hours to talk to your boring neighbor and resolving disputes and being the subject of gossip and putting up with people you don’t like much, when it is easier not to. His point is absolutely true. But it is also true that the re-establishment of an American political power requires also that many of us disengage from the workforce – I mean that quite seriously. That doesn’t necessarily mean that this disengagement should occur on gendered terms – if anything, we’ve seen that more men are being laid off than women. But we’re going to have to find time to live on one income – by combining households and reducing costs if we’re to have a meaningful democracy – and this is not easy. I don’t understate the enormous difficulty for people, the cost to their lives. And yet, what is most needed to establish community is time, the hardest single thing to claim.
As I have said over and over again, the version of the women’s movement that succeeded in the US and around the world couldn’t have been more useful for neo-liberal growth capitalism if someone had commissioned a study. There were and are versions of feminism that critiqued this model, and they were largely shunted aside in favor of a world where everyone’s work is co-opted into the growth economy. This is not the fault of feminism, who rightly felt that who got to go out and be educated and professional should not be decided on the basis of gender. But until someone goes home again, and starts taking up the low impact domestic work, and making time for daily communal and political life, the hopes of our imagined communities are fairly faint. This may be the single hardest nut to crack for most of us – because we really do need the money, and indeed, have become dependent on what hurts us the most.

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