15 October 2010

The diminution of community

“Decades of privatisation and its rhetoric have left us with a community that struggles to conceptualise its real collectivity.”

It is correct to point out that community has been significantly weakened in the thirty years of market fundamentalism. The last of the great working-class struggles, the miners strike 1984-85, grew out of an identification with community. Those communities are no more.

I will list here without comment what I regard as the major reasons for the diminution of community in the age of market fundamentalism.

Geographical mobility
Economic inequality (financial segregation of the working class)
Stress through insecurity (flexible insecure work)
Consumer consumption (from the public market to the private shopping mall)
Break-down in family structures
De-homogenisation of culture / immigration

New Labour in its spin recognised the loss of community by creating the post of community secretary in the government. The main thrust, though, was to try to re-invent artificial, illiberal and undemocratic religious “communities” by co-opting right-wing clerics. Segregated education became the main tool of bringing this about. Of course all this served to further break up secular geographical communities (e.g. the loss of local comprehensive school)

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