1 March 2018

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 the role of geographical community has been significantly weakened in the three decades 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 now fractured.

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

1. Geographical mobility (people moving from one location to another with little commitment to where they live)

2. Economic inequality (financial segregation of the working class with minimal shared existence.)

3. Stress through insecurity (flexible insecure work, with little time left to devote to the clubs and societies that comprise community.)

4. Altered consumer consumption patterns (from the public market to the private shopping mall, where trespass laws prevent any non-authorised meeting)

5. Break-down in family structures (Isolated individuals spending more time with self-maintenance than reaching out to others in the community)

6. De-homogenisation of culture (Immigration can enrich a local community, but it can also divide it)

New Labour in government (1997-2010) 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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